Participants of Livv Housing Group’s ‘Men vs Food’ project were invited to an awards ceremony and afternoon tea with the High Sheriff of Merseyside last week to celebrate their successes.
Organised by Livv and Alchemic Kitchen, in partnership with local chef Adam Franklin, the Men vs Food initiative is a free cookery course that results in a qualification. Designed specifically to support mental wellbeing in young men – the group of people who are most at risk of suicide – the programme creates a safe and inclusive space for them to talk about their mental wellbeing, while also focusing on improving their culinary skills and giving them ideas for affordable and nutritious meals.
The project was co-funded by KMBC as part of the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund.
Upon completion of the programme, eight of the participants were presented with their certificate by Lesley Martin-Wright, the High Sheriff of Merseyside, at an awards ceremony held at one of Livv’s Extra Care schemes in Huyton. This was followed by an afternoon tea supplied by social enterprise, Homebaked.
The accredited certification recognises the practical cooking, budgeting, meal planning and batch buying/cooking skills that were covered in the course.
Local Ward Councillor Mike Kearns, Cabinet Member of Resources Councillor Jayne Aston and the Council’s Executive Director of Resources, James Duncan, along with residents of the extra care scheme were also invited to join the celebration.
One of the participants on the course said: “The Men vs Food project has really changed my lifestyle. I was living on beans on toast and ready meals before, I wouldn’t touch vegetables and now I’m basically a vegetarian! I suffer with my mental health and attending these sessions, getting together with other people, has been a great help. It’s been a great day today and it was a pleasure to meet the High Sheriff.”
Each session included a communal sit-down meal before moving on to interactive cooking demonstrations. Participants also benefitted from taking home some new recipes, a slow cooker, a hamper of fresh and store cupboard ingredients to create meals, free travel to and from the venue and ongoing support from Livv’s Advisory team.
Amanda Newton, Executive Director of Customer Insight at Livv Housing Group, said: “Food is one area where anyone and everyone has common ground.
“It’s been great to hear from our customers about how Men vs Food has had such a positive impact on their lives. It’s also great to see how getting involved in the programme has given them a new-found love for cooking, created new friendships and support networks, and ultimately supported them to have improved mental wellbeing.
“This is just one example of the projects that we’re funding for our customers as part of our Social Impact programme which looks to address some of the challenges that people are facing in these difficult times. We’ve been working in partnership with Alchemic Kitchen to bring food initiatives to the heart of our communities over the past year. Alongside Men vs Food, we’ve also been working on the Food in the Community project, ensuring that customers are able to access affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Livv is a housing provider, but we also play a key role in supporting the people who live in our homes. The feedback that we’ve received from this programme has been brilliant and it was wonderful to meet the people who benefited, and to hear how focusing on food not only helped with their wellbeing but also their ability to stay physically healthy through the creation of good, affordable, home cooked meals.
“Thank you to Lesley, our local councillors and colleagues from KMBC for joining us for the celebrations. It was a lovely and uplifting afternoon all-round.”
Keenan Humble, Programmes Development Manager at Alchemic Kitchen, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Livv for their continued support and partnership in developing our work in Knowsley. We’ve been able to form closeknit relationships with their customers who have been crucial in co-creating new bodies of work, based on the wants and needs of people from across the borough.
“The cooking courses have been fantastic and delivering the sessions with Adam and his team continues to be a brilliant experience. It’s a privilege to work with so many fantastic people and we’re excited to continue engaging with Livv’s customers to deliver more cooking courses, create community run food spaces such as allotments and cafes, and rolling out the expansion of our mobile fruit and veg market, The Queen of Greens.”
Lesley Martin-Wright, High Sheriff of Merseyside, commented: “Thank you to Livv and Alchemic Kitchen for inviting me along to present the certificates to the participants. Not only did I learn more about the benefits of the project – and the great work that Livv and Alchemic Kitchen are doing in our community – but I was also given some recipes and hints from those who participated. I may even have to retrieve my slow cooker from the cupboard!”
Due to the success of the first phase of the Men vs Food project, Livv will be providing further cooking courses as part of the Food in the Community programme to its customers again later this year. For more information, Livv customers can contact the Advisory Services Team (email@example.com).