Virtual Cooking: Jacket Potatoes in Quarantine Ready, Steady, Cook!
During this turbulent time being able to offer the same level of support to our service users has had its challenges. But that has certainly not deterred us from giving our all by going the extra mile. Jessie-Emma, who is a Project Worker for Feeling Safe, has written a blog about a session she has ran during lockdown.
As a project worker for Kairos a fundamental part of my role in facilitating weekly group activities every Tuesday at 2pm at our office on Walsgrave Road.
For our readers who are unfamiliar with Kairos, we are a 21 year old charity based in Coventry. We work with vulnerable women who are fundamentally at risk of sexual exploitation and experience domestic violence, homelessness, drug addiction, past trauma and poor mental health.
I love running group, it is fun, interactive, creativity is encouraged and developed. The Feeling Safe Group is facilitated for 18- 24 year olds. It serves as a safe place for young women to socialise and simply escape from their everyday lives for a few hours especially for our women who are isolated from friends and family and as a result do not get the needed support from said group. The Feeling Safe Group also provides the ladies with a safe space to speak, share, form friendships and simply have a good time.
We have engaged in some wonderful activities so far this year. Some of my personal favourites have been our card making day, where we had a professional card maker come in and show us how to make cards, pancake day, words of affirmation day, the artistic makeup challenge to mention but a few. We are also currently working on a children’s book that we hope to get published and result in a series of books being created.
Group activity is a lifeline for some of our women especially those who live alone. It is something that they look forward to every week. The national lockdown meant group sessions could not be held any longer. I needed to find other ways to engage the ladies in weekly tasks in doing so this would establish continuity with weekly group and give the ladies a creative task that would help keep them occupied, and that is exactly what I did. I have set weekly tasks to engage the ladies and they have enjoyed them so far.
One of the first tasks was a cooking task which required the ladies to make a simple dish and send pictures for our post-quarantine scarp book. Many jumped on board and were excited about this challenge. However, one of the girls wanted to sit this one out. I was confused and concerned as she is very active in group and never misses a session. I probed further to understand why she did not want to take part in this activity. She let me know that she has been feeling low, depressed and had not been eating. This was upsetting so I suggested a videocall to my manager who gave the all clear. I then asked my service user if she would like us to cook together over a video call. She immediately sounded much heartier and enthusiastic about the challenge.
With the necessary safeguarding measures in place we had our virtual cooking session. What did we make you ask? Our favourite, JACKET POTATOES. We had a good chat during the process, and I taught her a fast method of cooking jacket potatoes in the microwave – uni life style! We had a bite to eat and interacted together. She was very happy saying ‘thank you so much for doing this with me Jess, I really appreciate it’. This filled my heart. She was happy, relaxed and most importantly had eaten for that day.
Working for Kairos I see my colleagues really embody the meaning of this charity ‘at the appointed time’. I will say that sometimes they make that ‘time’ happen by taking control and making things happen in advocating and providing support for service users however they can. During this season we have been at the forefront advocating for housing, food, funding, providing physical and emotional support as well as other forms of day to day support for our women. With mental health spiralling for many of our women we have been liaising with other agencies to get our service users the needed support to stay afloat during this challenging time.
Despite the restrictions of lockdown and the limitations that it presents we have not let that stop us, we are using all resources available to us and we are even more determined to remove and overcome barriers our service users face. We must remember #everywomanmatters even during lockdown.
Our service users are our top priority and I am glad to be part of such a dynamic group of ladies supporting these lovely women through their lives.