Wrekin Housing’s Men in Kitchens returns to Telford

A scheme that helps older men to learn how to cook is returning to Telford.

Men in Kitchens looks to get more men into the kitchen and cook fresh food for themselves. The programme, run by The Wrekin Housing Group, aims to help prevent loneliness and isolation in older men while teaching them basic cooking skills so that they can prepare healthy and nutritious food.

The fortnightly classes at Vicarage Grove, Dawley offer cookery tips and practical hands-on experience in the kitchen. Led by a volunteer chef, participants are taught a new recipe each week.

Tony Griffin, 84, was one of the original participants. Since joining Men in Kitchens he has started taking part in more social activities, events and trips. He’s now the life of the party.

He said: “I lost my wife in 2018, she passed away quite suddenly. She learned to cook in the army catering corps. They would finish up working in the officers’ mess she knew what she was doing.

“Before I lost her, the only time I was allowed in the kitchen was when there was washing up to be done! But she could knock a meal up out of anything and when you’ve had a wife like that for 37 years you forget anything you’ve ever learnt about cooking, so I was really left in limbo.

“Then I heard about Men in Kitchens on the radio and thought, ‘yes, I need that’. I phoned the number and Katrina answered and I never looked back.

“We all seemed to click and get on together and we had a laugh. It was like a social club but we were all taught to cook as well. I learned a lot from there. Covid kicked it into touch but I’m looking forward to coming back. I have been learning and experimenting more with the recipes they gave us and I could cook a decent meal now.”

Katrina Pooler, retirement living events co-ordinator for The Wrekin Housing Trust, said, “It’s great to bring the Men in Kitchens project back to Dawley. It was really popular first time around but we had to put it on hold because of the pandemic. The aim of these sessions is to help men over 55 to feel more confident in the kitchen, however the social side is also important.

“For a lot of the men they had either lost their wives, or their wives had become poorly. They were now their carers so needed to be able to cook a nutritious meal. As the cost of food has risen there will also be lots of useful tips on how to eat healthy food on a budget.”

Retired Chef, Tom volunteers at the classes. He shares recipes and teaches the men basic skills that they can try at home.

He said: “I’ve always worked in catering and really enjoyed catering in the care sector. The interaction with residents was just brilliant. One of the biggest problems affecting older people is loneliness. If people are isolated it doesn’t do them any good.

“I don’t think men open up as much when there’s women around too. Men in Kitchens is as much about the social side as the cooking so by learning together they can socialise and create their own support network.

The next Men in Kitchen session will take place on Tuesday 23 April between 12-2pm at Vicarage Grove, Dawley.

Main image: (Left to right) The Wrekin Housing Group’s Katrina Pooler with Tony Griffin from The Men in Kitchens project


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