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When children start secondary school, they begin to make their own choices and are susceptible to developing a bad relationship with food. At this time under a quarter of them are either overweight or obese, but by the time they leave school this figure has risen to over one third.



Lack of concentration, anaemia and depression are all symptoms of nutritional deficiencies in the diet.  A School Food Trust Study found that diet has a positive impact on pupils' engagement, concentration, and their ability to learn in the classroom. In fact, they found that just by eating healthily, children are 18% more likely to stay on task.


The national curriculum has recently started to incorporate  healthy eating into lesson plans. By Key stage 3, the curriculum specifies that students should be able to cook a range of primarily savoury dishes, and be able to apply the principles of nutrition and healthy eating.


However,  food technology lessons in schools are still primarily focused on baking and sugar-laden foods. Schools do not have the resources to build these new requirements into their courses.


What We Do


CookSmart fills this gap, and teaches children to make healthy choices about food at an age when they are beginning to gain independence and make their own decisions. The project provides them with the skills and confidence to make these choices which in turn helps them concentrate on their school work.


We have devised an after school course of 6 comprehensive lesson plans over 4 weeks that provide digestible information on healthy eating to a class of 14 children aged from 11 to 12 years old. These sessions showcase different cultures and eating styles, as well as reinforcing their underlying message of health because concentration and diet are intrinsically linked.


Year 1


The first school we have worked with was St Mary Redcliffe, a secondary school in south Bristol.


The highlight of our sessions this year has been the practical element. Each class teaches the children a new dish to cook, giving the children kitchen confidence and the tools to eat better forever.


The school does currently have food technology lessons and facilities, although the time that students spend on these session is minimal. It was therefore thought that this would be a good school to pilot the programme with as we could add to the time these children spend and in doing so give them a real boost.


The meals that we cook in the classes have been calculated for cost and will feed a family of four for under five pounds so that even low income families who frequently turn to ready meals or fast food will be able to utilise them after the course has finished. We feel strongly that budget should not have a bearing on health and wellbeing.          



To add to the impact of our course we have arranged with the charity ‘Fixers’, to publish a cookbook. This will enable the students to take home something from the sessions and so continue to benefit from them in the future. It also means that the parents can have more of an input on how the lessons learn for the classes are utilised.


We see it as crucial to involve the parents in this process. Since the children are still at an age where their parents have a lot of control over what they eat.


Schools can now teach children to be both book-smart, and to CookSmart.


This year has been the start of a small, yet powerful, food movement. By educating children at the age where they are most susceptible to learning bad eating habits, CookSmart has been able to help them take control. Reducing their chances of developing food related illnesses and increasing their chances of achieving the best they can academically.


Our Goals


Over the next few years we will be working with new schools and setting up similar courses. In addition to this we will be refining their cookbook which will expand benefits of the project even further.  In order to continue our impact we will be training sixth formers in the schools to run the programme, making the project sustainable for the future. Whilst at the same time enabling the sixth formers to gain work experience, which will help with their university or job applications over the coming years.

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Souper Kitchen

Souper Kitchen

15th Apr 2015

As part of our Level 2 Youth Work Qualification we chose a Homeless Soup Kitchen as one of our social action projects.

            The kitchen was based on Collage Green in Bristol, on Thursday 5th February. It was run by a group from Hanham Youth Club, who are working towards completing their Level 2 Qualification. The soup kitchen had a range of cakes and biscuits, tea, coffee hot chocolate and of course soup, freshly made by some of the group.

            We chose to do this event because homelessness is a topic we feel is not addressed enough. It is a huge problem all around the world, and we feel that it needs more recognition. We wanted to raise awareness to the public to show how many people in Bristol alone are homeless. We also wanted to bring happiness and a little extra warmth in to the day of the people living on the streets. As a group, we knew that homeless people were all around but we didn’t fully understand what these people were going through until after we’d done the kitchen and spoken to them.

            To plan the project, we met once a week to arrange the date, time and venue. We all offered to do different things to make it a good event. Some of us volunteered to make the soup, set up the gazebo, bring cakes and biscuits and supply gas stoves for warming the soup and water. Everyone contributed differently to help make the event possible.

            By doing this event we wanted to achieve a few things; to raise awareness about the topic and get more people to help, to understand as much as possible what these people are really going through on a day to day basis; and to of course, make a difference to the community by putting a smile on peoples faces. We felt we achieved what we wanted too. It was heart-warming to see how much they appreciated this small act of kindness.

            Personally, being involved in an event of this nature made me appreciate everything I have so much more, it made me realise how lucky I am. It also made me want to do more for the community, more for people who don’t get the basic human rights of food, warmth and shelter. Seeing someone homeless now affects me a lot more than previously. All these people have their individual stories, none of them asked to be homeless. When you’re in your bed tonight, warm and cosy, just send a prayer for those who are facing the streets; it could go a long way.


Bibby Curtis

Young person from Hanham youth club Social Action Youth Project

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Christmas Fundraiser

Christmas Fundraiser

15th Apr 2013

Christmas fundraiser-

Why did we decide on this project?

The ‘Christmas fundraiser’ was a brilliant festive way to involve all aged members of  the Hanham Youth Club, which is why we decided to take part in this project. When we became aware of HYC being in trouble with debt, we wanted to use all our power to help; HYC is very important to us all. With the encouragement from Aaron, Sophia and Paloma we came to an agreement that this project would be best suited for both helping out HYC and also completing our SAY project.

What did we do to plan the project?

We had to take into considerations that the ages would vary from 11-18 and therefor had to be age appropriate and fun for everyone…proving to be quite challenging. First of all we had to decide on the activities, food, drink and the extras, more importantly how much this would cost; we are not mathematics or expert event organisers but fortunately we had the support to point us in the right direction, thankfully!

After brainstorming ideas, we finally had a clear plan on what we wanted and what we didn’t, now we had to take it from the paper and make it reality- we needed all the luck we could get.

What did we want to achieve?

We were very enthusiastic about this project, and we wanted this to show in our success. This project was all about raising as much money as we could, which was what we wished to achieve most. We also wanted to please all guests that attended and make their night as enjoyable as possible- hopefully the inflatable bull did the trick.

How did we feel being involved in this project?

We were all incredibly proud that we had an opportunity to give back to the club in the duration of this project, and we were even more excited to see the turn out, but I’m not denying that we weren’t nervous, after all this was our first project.

We are extremely grateful for all the help and guidance that we received, and we are especially passionate about the overall project. Thank you.

Skye  Bell

Young Person from Hanham Youth Club Social Action Youth Project

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