Social enterprise, local community groups and charities came together to help Wantage families

Social enterprise, local community groups and charities came together to help Wantage families affected by Coronavirus to shop and cook on a tight budget.

In November 2020, Wantage-based cooking social enterprise Maymessy ran a series of five classes every Thursday on food shopping and cooking on a tight budget for Wantage families affected by Coronavirus, thanks to a partnership with local charities, the Council and community groups.

Maymessy, Wantage Coronavirus Support Group, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and Sustainable Wantage came together to support local families by providing much needed help on how to shop and cook on a tight budget. Maymessy ran series of five classes for four adults at their cookery school just outside West Challow. Wantage Coronavirus Support Group, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and Sustainable Wantage  provided the link with the local families in need but also provided funding for the classes and food from The Mix food bank.

“As a qualified teacher with nutritional accreditation and a mother of twin girls, I know how food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget or using a food bank,” said Anna Richards the founder of Maymessy. “As a local community interest company, I wanted to Maymessy to help these families by providing a safe and comfortable space to learn these essential life skills.

“During lockdown Maymessy supported the NHS Oxford with weekly deliveries to 96 Covid-19 special-care staff. At the end of lockdown, we also collaborated with Ray Collins Charitable Trust to provide care packages to the staff of the John Radcliffe Children’s hospital. It was there that we had the idea that we could partner to provide support to local families in Wantage – providing our cooking expertise to the families using the Support Group.”

The Wantage Coronavirus Support Group have been working closely with local families over the last nine months supplying much needed bags of shopping and emergency electrical appliances. During this time, they have gained a better understanding of some people’s needs and identified that these classes would really make a difference.

“Shopping and cooking on a tight budget is never easy,” said Ray Collins co-founder of the Wantage Coronavirus Support Group, “and in some cases can lead to friction and tension in the home: so Sustainable Wantage, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and the Coronavirus Support Group want to help out by organising cooking classes for parents and hopefully older children to learn new cookery skills together and how to plan and budget for meals,

“We are teaming up with Maymessy and Sustainable Wantage to supply transport, run the classes, supply ingredients, teach new skills, learn how to budget and cook meals to take home to the family and to have some fun. We all believe that if all the family can get involved in the shopping, planning, preparing and cooking of the meals then everyone will enjoy them more and create a stronger family unit.”

The classes are an amazing mixture of different funding and a good example of collaboration between different organisations in Wantage to support families in need. The partnership hopes to extend the programme of classes to help all 50 families supported by the Wantage Coronavirus Support Group in 2021.  Please do get in touch with me or Ray Collins to cook.

“Our food waste reduction project The Mix Community Fridge has saved over 20 tonnes of edible food from being thrown away in the past 10 months,” said Jo Harvey of Sustainable Wantage. “We love hearing all the fantastic and creative ideas people have to make great meals with the food they get from us.

“We’re really looking forward to working with Maymessy to help people enjoy preparing meals and make best use of the food available to them. With Ray Collins Charitable Trust’s support, we can provide transport to and from the cookery classes. We hope to be able to make these classes as accessible as possible to as many people as possible!”

“I hope we can find long term solutions that go beyond the school holidays,” Emma Revie, head of the Trussell Trust, commented. “These classes will enable these families do learn essential life skills.”

Special thanks go to Ray Collins at Ray Collins Charitable Trust for providing transport for the ladies to and from Wantage, printing costs for menus and for buying the ladies food blenders as a well done present; and to Jo from the Mix, Sustainable Wantage for food bank ingredients.


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