In May 2014 Kitchen Club was launched at the Boilerhouse community centre in the George Downing housing estate in Hackney. With start-up funding from Lloyds Bank and the School for Social Entrepreneurs, we launched a 3 month pilot to test proof of concept and refine the model, which helped us to secure additional funding from Southern Housing Group.
By March 2015, we had delivered 39 sessions, reaching over 150 parents and children. Feedback surveys suggested the project was making a significant impact but we wanted to develop a robust evidence base to prove the value of the project.
In April 2015 we secured a grant from Hackney Public Health, who were funding innovative projects to improve mental wellbeing. As part of a special ‘funding plus’ arrangement, we worked in partnership with the council to develop a robust evaluation framework in line with public health priorities.
In September of 2016 we established a new partnership with Woodland's Park Children's Centre and moved the Hackney project to the Round Chapel, where we prioritise support for families in local temporary accommodation hostels.
In addition to these 'core settings', since November 2021 we have also worked with additional settings who are keen to deliver projects like ours but lack the in-house expertise to do so. Our model is to deliver sessions for two terms, during which time setting staff join us to receive ‘on the job’ training on how to use our recipes, plans and resources. To work with us, settings must agree to continue delivering the project for at least three months after we move on. Partner settings have included Moreland Children's Centre, Linden Children's Centre and Sebright Children's centre.
We aim to improve family nutrition and help parents to improve their skills, confidence and mental wellbeing, supporting their capacity to care for their children. As well as recipes, our creative play activities provide parents with examples of things they can try at home to support their child’s learning and development. We reach parents who struggle to engage with more formal groups and connect families to specialist services, whilst also fostering networks of informal peer support.
We have five key outcomes:
Improved nutrition for parents and children
Improved confidence and skills related to cooking
Improved mental well-being for parents
Improved social connectedness
Improved knowledge and access to support services
For our 2020 Impact Report, we assessed impact in key outcome areas for parents who attended regularly between May 2019 and January 2020. Parents completed baseline and follow up self-assessment questionnaires and participated in semi-structured case study interviews.
Significant improvements were seen in measures for nutrition, confidence in cooking, mental wellbeing, social connectedness and knowledge of local activities and services. For many parents, Kitchen Club was the first family support activity that they had engaged with, leading to access to Children’s Centres, counselling and parenting programmes. Our retention rate was 67%, which is very high compared to other projects who seek to engage hard to reach parents.
Improved nutrition & confidence in cooking ability:
All parents surveyed said that their cooking skills had improved. The percentage of parents who rated their cooking skills ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ increased from 30% in the baseline to 66% in the follow up. The amount of participants who said they prepared a meal from scratch every day increased from 15% in the baseline to 53% in the follow up. The number of parents who said they ate three or more portions of fruit or vegetables each day increased from 35% in the baseline questionnaire to 67% in the follow up.
For each of the seven statements in the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, overall responses were more positive in the follow up than the baseline. Responses to the statement ‘I’ve been feeling relaxed’ showed the largest improvement. In the baseline survey, 20% reported feeling relaxed either ‘All the time’ or ‘Often’ and this increased to 93% in the follow up.
Knowledge of local activities and services:
In the baseline survey only 5% of respondents said they had all the information they needed about local activities and services, but this increased to 53% in the follow up. One parent commented in a case study interview that ‘I can ask for anything and the staff will help me find where I need to go’
The amount of participants who felt ’Very well connected’ to parents with children of a similar age increased from 20% in the baseline survey to 53% in the follow up. In the case study interviews several parents emphasised how important Kitchen Club had been for them as a way to make new friends and as an opportunity for their children to socialise.
The evaluation demonstrated that Parent Club was successfully achieving its aims of creating an informal learning environment, forging local social networks for parents and improving the mental well-being of parents.
“The relaxed environment at Kitchen Club helps children and parents to form new friendships and important support networks”