Bristol welcomes Migrateful!

By Jess Thompson

Migrateful is a charity that runs cookery classes led by migrant chefs struggling to integrate and access employment in the UK. The cookery classes provide ideal conditions not just for learning English and building confidence, but also for promoting contact and cultural exchange with the wider community, very much aligned with the values of Bristol Going for Gold actions in the ‘Community Action’ strand. In our latest blog post, founder Jess Thompson gives us the low-down on the project.

Our charity Migrateful is a cookery initiative where asylum seekers, refugees and migrants teach their traditional cuisines to the general public bringing the benefits of integration and employment. Participants in the cookery courses have the chance to enjoy some delicious food and benefit from cultural exchange. We can see clear links between our work and Bristol Going for Gold’s Community Actions, as a way of championing good food in the city.

We started the charity in London in 2017 after my experience working with refugees in Ceuta, Morocco and Dunkirk inspired the idea of providing cookery classes and supper-clubs with a social purpose. I’m originally from Bristol, so on a personal note it is really exciting to be setting up the project here. We’re delighted to be working in collaboration with Coexist Community Kitchen to train refugee and migrant chefs in Bristol through weekly workshops. The sessions begin with confidence-building exercises. Participants then take turns teaching the rest of the group how to cook their traditional cuisine, before all sitting down together to share the meal they have prepared. When our chefs feel ready, they deliver evening cookery classes to paying customers, supported by Migrateful.

Through the programme Bristol residents can now enjoy a range of cookery classes and discover cuisines such as Sudanese, Gambian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani, all taught by our cohort of brilliant chefs. Take a look at the website to see if there are any courses that take your fancy. You could also book a session for team-building with workmates – this can be logged as a Going for Gold action. Many of our courses are vegetarian too – great if you’re aiming to eat more meat-free meals, another Going for Gold ‘Eating Better’ action.

The main goal of Migrateful is to address issues of destitution, unemployment, language barriers and integration among the UK migrant community. From teaching a class, our chefs feel empowered through skill-sharing, making friends, practising their English and receiving cash donations which help them to pay for travel and food (most of them cannot legally work nor do they receive state benefits).

One of our chefs, from Sudan, Negla, told me: “10 years ago me and my family were forced to leave Sudan because of the war and we arrived to the UK as refugees. I had to start cooking for my family. It was the first time I had properly cooked for [them]. They liked my cooking a lot. I started to try lots of different dishes and then I realised I was an amazing cook.”

People who have attended the classes have told us it’s a great way to spend time with friends, meet new people, and learn about another culture and cooking in a fun way. We’re looking for more venues to partner with, so do get in touch with us if this is something you could offer.

Jess Thompson is the founder and CEO of Migrateful.

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