This is a guest blog from Jennifer Fong FRSA. Jennifer is Founder and Co-Director of Cooking with Mama, a project which received Catalyst funding earlier this year.
Coconut biscuits, Sri Lankan pumpkin curry and Mexican chiles en nogada. These are a just a few of the many dishes that over 150 Londoners have learned to create at Cooking With Mama (CWM).
A RSA Catalyst-funded culinary school and social enterprise, CWM has had a productive first year, including cooking classes, secret supper clubs, catering, corporate events, market stalls, Mama training days, an expansion into Berlin, and kitchens filled with new friends learning to create authentic home cooked meals. Best of all - we have been able to empower women, our Mamas, with confidence and work-readiness skills through training and paid opportunities to lead cooking classes in communities across London.
CWM is taking shape at a critical time for women. A report from the Fawcett Society earlier this year showed that women’s unemployment has risen to a 25 year high, with almost three times as many women as men having become long-term unemployed since 2010. This is a context within which social enterprises like CWM can help fill a critical gap. As ‘conventional’ full-time jobs become increasingly rare, people are acquiring work experience in more creative ways. And, if you’re a great amateur cook, you can pass along your skills and knowledge to a curious and committed audience with CWM.
Beyond our cooking classes and supper clubs, CWM recently held a ‘Mama Training Day’ dedicated to our Mamas' personal development, professional goals, and building a strong community of women with whom to learn and grow. A focal development area was the importance of storytelling and developing the skill of bringing cultural content to life during the classes.
For our official launch party, CWM also gathered a diverse mix of individuals from the foodie and social enterprise spheres to showcase our Mamas’ culinary talents and celebrate our achievements for the year. See a video highlighting the moments here:
How you can get involved
CWM is thankful for its supporters! As we continue to grow and develop, our goal is to serve our existing Mamas by providing them with access to opportunities to gain food industry experience and continue to support as many women as possible. Based on the feedback we have received in recent months, the encouragement and motivation provided by the RSA’s Catalyst Award, and our genuine love of yummy things of all kinds, we believe the future is bright. Our future is looking very tasty indeed!
If you think our idea sounds delicious, there are many simple ways to get involved!
Contact us to join our mailing list to learn about upcoming events and news
Volunteer with us - we're particularly looking for people with expertise in partnerships, recruitment, social media and websites. We are also looking for legal/tax advice. Please get in touch if you think you can help us!
If you would like to support some of the fantastic projects run by RSA Fellows - such as Cooking with Mama - please sign up to RSA Skills bank and join a growing network of individuals inspired to share their knowledge, time and expertise to deliver social change and enhance human capability.