Plant-based cookery school Made In Hackney has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help “secure its future”.
The award-winning charity, which was founded by former reggae journalist Sarah Bentley in 2012, hopes to raise £85,000 to help “10,000 people lead healthier, happier lives over the next five years”.
The Crowdfunder campaign is being supported by chefs and businesses across the capital who are offering rewards for donations.
Incentives include meals for two in London restaurants, foraging walks, cookery classes, supper club tickets and spa retreats.
The charity needs to raise at least £45,000 by 27 November for the fundraising project to succeed.
Bentley said: “We teach people how to cook and eat food that is not just good for their health – but also the health of the planet. Everyone knows we need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, sugar and meat – but most people don’t know where to start.
“Many don’t even know how to cook from scratch at all and especially how to prepare vegetables in an exciting, tasty way. That’s where we come in.”
As well as keeping the kitchen running, money raised will go towards courses for care leavers to prepare them for independent living, as well as on cooking lessons for cash-strapped families.
The charity says the funding will also help it run projects for people who have suffered major health incidents, such as a stroke or loss of sight and hearing.
Wiz, a participant on the kitchen’s Cooking For Life course, said: “Made In Hackney has changed my life. I was a type 2 diabetic and now, thanks to the changes I’ve made to my diet after attending their programme, I no longer take any insulin.
“I’ve been so inspired I’ve started to earn money by cooking for other people and I’m now developing a career in food. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Lowell “Spirit” Grant, who has volunteered with the charity as a community class leader, said: “Projects like Made In Hackney are very important for the local community. We need to learn what is the proper food to put in our belly. Especially the young people. They’re the next generation and they grow up on chicken shops and McDonald’s and it’s not right. I very much enjoy teaching and passing on my food skills to the community.
Spirit, whose long-running legal battle with the council has been covered by the Citizen, added: “I’ve had a lot of stress in my life over the last few years and the classes have helped me take my mind off it – even just for a little bit and improved my mood. The parties are always very nice too. I’m glad to be a part of it.”
To find out more about Made In Hackney, or to donate, please visit the charity’s Crowdfunder project here.