Migrateful is a great new initiative based in London where refugees and Londoners can cook, learn and eat together. We spoke to the organisation’s founder, Jess Thompson, who told us more about how Migrateful is making a difference.
In a nutshell, Migrateful trains refugees and asylum seekers to run cookery classes and share their cuisines with customers at supper clubs hosted all over London. As people share their enthusiasm and passion for food, they also gain experience, language, skills and friends.
Having worked extensively with refugee communities in Morocco, France and the UK, Jess realised that many of the women had left behind successful careers but could not find employment in the UK due to unrecognised qualifications or limited English.
“There was a lot of frustration with the women not being able to offer something to their new community. They struggled to meet and speak to local people which is why they weren't learning English as fast as they would like.”
Having seen the skill and passion that went into making their local dishes, Jess was inspired to use this to help the women gain formal qualifications, practice English and meet people. Starting with informal cookery classes in her flat in London, Jess invited her friends to learn how to experience different cuisines, ranging from Syrian to Pakistani to Cuban.
The classes are important in many ways and focus on weekly training groups for the chefs, allowing them to learn how to formally lead a cooking class, thus increase employability.
On top of all these benefits, Jess found that the chefs were also happy to have a support group and meaning for the first time since arriving in the UK.
“I think that during the asylum process you feel very vulnerable and feel like you need to constantly ask for help from those around you. However, you feel very empowered when you are leading the cookery classes. A lot of the asylum seekers talk about how they have had purpose for the first time.”
“It's great because the chefs are getting a lot but the customers also love it,” she tells me. The demand is high, and Jess is hoping to run four weekly cookery classes by next year.
For more information on the cooking classes, the chefs and how you can get involved, check out the website here.