Two people cooking food at World Kitchen

Rugby residents from 11 different countries were brought together to share food and build community spirit at World Kitchen by Rugby Community Hub.

World Kitchen by Rugby Community Hub is an initiative part-funded by the Warwickshire County Council grant to help reduce inequalities in ethnically diverse communities. 

The World Kitchen project delivers food-focused sessions that teach English through joint cooking and conversation. They received the grant in November 2021 and used it to purchase tabletop hobs and kitchen equipment, as well as providing supermarket vouchers to allow those cooking to purchase their own ingredients. 

Miriam Sitch, a director of Rugby Community Hub, said: 

“We have been delighted that two of our Timebuilder volunteers, who came to Rugby from Syria about four years ago, have enjoyed making and sharing some of their favourite Syrian delicacies. They invited a friend from Algeria to join in the cooking on the third World Kitchen. On each occasion, we have been joined by a number of asylum seekers, currently in Rugby, making food from their own home countries: Yemen, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Iraq. 

“World Kitchen has helped challenge preconceptions about asylum seekers which has had a positive impact on our HUB and church community. One of the main benefits has been the friendships which have started to develop with some of the asylum seekers and some of those who are now settled in Rugby. 

“We know that many if not all have come through some traumatizing experiences and if we can provide a warm welcome and an environment in which a taste of home can be enjoyed, then we are very privileged. It has been a very enriching and humbling experience.” 

Dishes have spanned a range of cultures, with attendees sharing recipes and working together to produced fusion dishes. One of the participants, originally from Yemen, made baked salmon at the first event, and returned for the second to cook spicy rice and chicken kabsa. She said “I can’t thank you enough. Everyone is so happy here.” 

And there is more planned. Miriam added: 

“As a direct result of World Kitchen, we are now hosting regular English lessons and have had one session of distributing clothes to asylum seekers families, with the hope that we can do that again for families who didn’t receive the information about the first session. We also hope to have a session for the children where they can come and choose a few books, craft items and toys. One of the asylum seekers is now volunteering with us regularly and is about to start a food hygiene course with us.” 

Councillor Margaret Bell, portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health added: 

“We are delighted to support this wonderful project. The community spirit created by World Kitchen is exactly the sort of thing we hoped these grants would encourage. Cooking is a great way to share skills while bringing people together – something which has been difficult during the COVID pandemic. 

“We know that ethnically diverse communities have been particularly affected by the pandemic, which is why we are offering this additional support for organisations that serve these groups. We aim to reduce inequalities and enable all residents of Warwickshire to live safe, healthy and independent lives.” 

Funding for World Kitchen came via the WCC grant to reduce inequalities in ethnically diverse communities, which provided funding to 14 different groups who each aim to improve the health and wellbeing of predominantly ethnically diverse communities living in Warwickshire. The full list of initiatives from the first round of funding can be viewed online

Published: 24th May 2022