‘Cooking classes commenced at Walsall College on 12th June 2019 and the organisation has already seen some great results!

The classes are part of the Foundation’s Community Matters Programme which aims to break down barriers in the Black Country helping more people into employment.

There’re 8 participants, all female from mixed backgrounds and ages, signed up to the project and they’ve also been involved with the organisation’s job club.

Running weekly, the club provides information on jobs and courses with Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Community Connectors answering queries.

The club also has advisers from YMCA, WMCA, Walsall Library and Walsall Council available to support participants.

Two participants, in their 20s, became friends and have now signed up to further courses to help develop their skill sets. The pair wouldn’t have been friends if it wasn’t for these sessions.

SB* attended a session with her grandmother, she suffered with social anxiety and has no formal qualifications. After her second session she appeared more confident and was able to arrive without support from her family she’s now going to complete a Food Hygiene course.

Her new friend, ST* said:

“Since coming to these classes, it’s really given me a push to do something with my life.”

Another participant, NM*, came to the project with alcohol problems, was is a turbulent relationship and is struggling with debt.

Shortly after arriving she spoke about having no friends. However, taking part in the available sessions has given her something to look forward too. She’s been signposted for help with her debt management and has continued to attend Walsall College so she can be supported by the DWP Community Connectors.

*Names have been changed.

The National Lottery Community Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.

The BBO project has received £260,000 of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.