Free cooking courses are changing people’s lives

Health Champions course leader Heather West, with Aubree and Melissa Thompson at a previous Worthing course
Health Champions course leader Heather West, with Aubree and Melissa Thompson at a previous Worthing course

When Sarah Wyatt lost her mum to cancer, she was grief-stricken.

Helping her on the road to recovery, a free community cooking course changed her outlook and boosted her self-esteem.

Health Champions director Denise Kennedy

Health Champions director Denise Kennedy

Sarah, of Drift Road, Bognor, completed a Cook With Confidence course, run by Health Champions Training, at Bognor Regis Youth and Community Centre. Not only did she learn to cook healthier meals, she made friends and socialising helped her in her time of grief.

She said: “I lost my mum before starting the course and it was just what I needed to get me out of the house to socialise again. Going on the course has helped me deal with my grief and I have also met some wonderful people.

“I urge anyone to attend a course if they can, as they are great and you learn so much. I am now hoping to do some volunteering in the future so I can help others.”

Courses are now running in Worthing, Sompting and Selsey, with places available for September, including Northbrook Barn Community Centre in Durrington, Worthing High School, St Peter’s Church in Sompting and Selsey Town Hall.

Worthing man Nick Pook, who attended a previous course, said: “I find cooking is something that takes me out of my comfort zone. I feel real anxiety when I am preparing anything to eat but I really enjoyed the sessions in the kitchen and I never thought I would say that. I even used my oven for the first time ever this week.”

Health Champions has been funded by Chichester District Wellbeing and Adur and Worthing Wellbeing to provide cooking and information sessions over the next 12 months to people who do not know how to cook healthily or who need to improve their diets.

Director Denise Kennedy, a registered dietitian, said: “People are often confused by all the conflicting information they read and hear about, so it’s not surprising that so many of us struggle in the kitchen.

“We show people how to prepare quick, healthy meals in a fun environment and the social side is extremely important also.”

The successful six-week courses aim to change people’s eating habits for good.

They are aimed at people who need a confidence boost in the kitchen and offer hands-on help for creating easy, low-cost and healthy meals. The courses encourage people to ditch ready meals and takeaways and to create delicious meals and snacks from scratch more regularly. People attending the courses often lose weight as a result of changing their diets and becoming more food aware.

People attending the fun and informal courses are given free ingredients and tasty recipes to create dishes, which they cook and eat together at each session.

For more information, visit the Health Champions website or call 01444 318649.

Current courses

Northbrook Barn Community Centre, Squadron Drive, September 7 to October 12, and November 9 to December 14, 10.30am to 12.30pm or 12.30pm to 2.30pm.

Worthing High School, South Farm Road, Worthing, September 13 to October 18, November 1 to December 6, and January 10 to February 21, 2018, 6pm to 8pm.

St Peter’s Church, Bowness Avenue, Sompting, September 11 to October 16, 10am to midday, or 12pm to 2pm.

Selsey Town Hall, 55 High Street, Selsey, September 8 to October 13, and January 26 to March 2, 2018, 12.30pm to 2.30pm.