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Chef cooks up a treat for Wycombe homeless project

| February 5, 2015

Michael Brown, a professional chef and qualified teacher from High Wycombe, has been helping people rebuilding their lives after being homeless by giving them cooking lessons in High Wycombe.

The cookery project was funded by Buckinghamshire County Council who recruited social entrepreneur Michael Brown to run a series of cookery projects to ‘reach out to the community and make a difference’.

On Monday 2nd February 2015 it was the turn of Wycombe Homeless Connection, a local Wycombe charity that helps around 400 people every year who are homeless or who are at risk of eviction.

Michael, who is the founder of a social enterprise company called Empower to Cook CIC, set up a kitchen at Oakley Hall in Castle Street. Eight people, who were formerly homeless enjoyed a two-hour session which included being shown how to make several affordable dishes with a pack of mince such as a bolognaise sauce and meatloaf.

Sheena Dykes, chair of trustees of Wycombe Homeless Connection, said:  ‘After we get people off the street in our Wycombe Winter Night Shelter and help them to find accommodation, our ‘Inspire’ programme aims to help them look after themselves. With us, every penny donated has to go a long way, and the Council’s funding of these vital sessions is a great help.

Chef Michael was given £2,000 by the Council’s High Wycombe Local Area Forum (LAF) to run sessions with four groups.

He explained:  ‘Once you engage with food and understand it, the healthy eating comes. I make sure that I tap into local and seasonal ingredients, where possible, and show people good food isn’t difficult or expensive to make.

The initiative kicked off in Castlefield Community Centre in December 2014 when Michael ran workshops with eight Asian men who previously had little experience of cooking.

Another workshop was held this week at Wycombe Mind, a mental health charity. In March 2015, Michael will take his culinary skills to Hatters Lane where he will hold sessions for the East Side Youth Club.

Valerie Letheren, Chairman of the County Council’s High Wycombe LAF, said: ‘One of our key priorities was to improve the health and well-being of residents. We wanted to reach out into the community and make a difference.

We asked Michael to find four groups of people to work with and he went out and he came back incredibly quickly. We are delighted with the results of his work.

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