GLASGOW is one of the main dispersal points in the UK for Asylum Seekers and a sad truth is that once an Asylum seeker gains refugee status, apart from in the unlikely circumstances that they have a lot of personal funds, that person then becomes a part of the homeless system.
This means that groups such as Ypeople, who provide supported accommodation to young homeless people (16-25) now work with a larger group of young refugees. This can create lingual and cultural barriers between the young people that live in this type of accommodation.
Social Bite, Ypeople and YCSA, who provide language and employment courses to people from a refugee and asylum seeking background, decided to work together to try to facilitate integration while learning new skills and having fun. We began with a cooking course.
Over a period of six weeks the young people learned how to cook a number of different dishes on a budget including: soup, pasta, homemade pizza and stir fry. This was overseen and taught, on most occasions, by Danny (The Mad Chef) McLaren. Danny is a well-known face throughout the city and has been interviewed by Vice for some of his novel recipes such as the vegan Big Mac.
The act of eating together and cooking for one another can be undervalued in a society which has a lot of ready-made meals and fast food. There is a real feeling of warmth in sitting down and eating a meal to which everyone has contributed in some way.
The programme was an opportunity for English improvement, and also for people who may not speak the same language, to come together, interact and share without having to communicate verbally.
The project will begin again soon and this time we will be incorporating the Community Achievement Award. This is an externally modulated and recognised award created by Glasgow Kelvin College that will give the young people a qualification at level SCQF 4 &5, the equivalent of National 4 & 5. We are also creating a structure that will, by the end, result in the group cooking three courses for a larger group of family or friends. We are hoping this will add in some transferable, employment skills of team work, planning, serving and coping in a stressful working environment….(but hopefully not too stressful!)
Social Bite’s Glasgow-based Training and Support worker Ewain Black said: “Often Young people in situations of homelessness have already faced significant trauma in their lives. I am hopeful and excited that this project may bring a lasting positive experience to the young people that engage in it, as well as giving them some skills and experience to assist them in their own futures.”