Our recent community research, commissioned by Public Health England, aimed to find out what local people value in their life and make sure what we do has real benefit. We found that people in our community value three things most in their life. People want to:

  • connect with others
  • feel good about themselves and their part in the community
  • give and get something back

Our Health Champions training programme was developed in this context and uses food to celebrate diversity, improve health and create community resilience in Tower Hamlets.

The training programme takes place over 12 days in an eight week period. The course provides an opportunity to gain new skills in leadership, cooking, communication, and helps improve the confidence, diet and physical health of participants. Building local connections and friendship across a broad spectrum of ages and ethnicities, ‘getting to know neighbours’ has been highly valued. For many Health Champions, being involved in the project has been a catalyst to moving into employment, training or further volunteering.

Bringing the community together

Our most recent cohort of volunteer Health Champions wanted to share what they had learned and support other local residents who are isolated, stressed or lonely. They decided to organise a Community Supper Club where local residents of Tower Hamlets could come together to experience the benefits of cooking and eating healthy food, regardless of finance, confidence or ability.

On 3rd May, we held our first event where over 60 people gathered together to feast on an affordable, healthy and delicious dinner. The recipes were shared with everyone who attended so they could take them away and learn to cook them at home. It brought together people from all cultures, those with disabilities, the elderly and socially isolated and encouraged them to try something new, by meeting with new people.

Want to come to our next supper club?

With the success of our first Community feast, we are now planning to hold another event in August. The new cohort of 10 volunteer Health Champions will plan, prepare, cook and serve a healthy and nutritious meal to 60 local residents.

To register your interest in attending our next event in August, please email healthchampions@bbbc.org.uk.

A few words from our Health Champions

“The Community Feast was an excellent opportunity for me to get to know my local community and bring together an array of people from a variety of backgrounds, culture and religions… It was a daunting time having anxiety and the thought of going out to new places to meet new people, well that in itself was scary, but the staff are very friendly and also very knowledgeable. I explained this and they were all very understanding.

So the first time there, I met people in the same boat as me, I thought… ‘Ok that feels good, I’m not alone after all.’ On my second day, I met another lady who was able to give me advice… ‘Ok this is getting great now.’ So weeks go past and before I know I have made new friends and also learnt some fantastic new recipes to use at home with my family.

I have discovered a community that I didn’t know existed. A safe and happy place with no one judging you and a place to feel good and learn new skills. Thanks to the community feast I now have new friends for life and a better knowledge of healthy nutritious food, which has helped with my anxiety a great deal.

Thank you for taking the time to listen as to why this project is so important to us all, and personally.” Kelly Bannister

“Organising dishes, prepping, cooking, sharing & feasting all together was such an amazing experience that a week on I already miss and hope for more opportunities to carry on. As diverse a group as we were, we got on fabulously. No secret here, people not only need to eat but rejoice around food and what better barrier breaker than tasty healthy beautiful meals to share!” Jess Segree