A COMMUNITY project offering free cookery workshops to people in Dorset has been given a massive £300,000 boost.

Dorset’s food and education charity, The Friendly Food Club, has announced that it has been awarded a three-year grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The club is set to receive £100,000 a year until 2026, which will help the charity to continue to deliver its free cookery workshops and food education sessions across the county.

The Friendly Food Club provides fun, friendly and free cooking programmes for disadvantaged and marginalised adults and children, including cookery skills, healthy eating and therapeutic cooking sessions, and community meals for older people and those with additional needs. 

The workshops and sessions enable participants to feel more self-reliant, improve self-confidence, build social connections, and can improve mental health. 

Dorset Echo: Phoenix cooking Spaghetti Napoli at one of the charity's workshops in DorsetPhoenix cooking Spaghetti Napoli at one of the charity's workshops in Dorset (Image: The Friendly Food Club)

One young person to have benefitted from the charity's work is Phoenix, who attended a cooking and nutrition sessions run by the charity last year.

By the time he had finished the courses, he was cooking for his Mum as well as looking forward to teaching her how to cook his recipes. 

He said: “Fast food made my energy levels so low. I feel different, I’m less tired than usual.  I sleep better, and I’ve got more energy.

“Without the cooking and nutrition course it would have been the same cycle, but I’ve changed, broken the cycle and I’m moving forward instead of backwards.”

 In 2023 the charity helped 2,022 people in the west of the county and a lot of its work is focused around the Weymouth and Portland area.

The news of the grant will now mean that the charity will be able to reach more communities across the county.

Liz Guilmant-Cush, CEO of The Friendly Food Club, said: "I am delighted that the National Lottery has seen that the Friendly Food Club is a charity worth investing in.

"This grant will allow us to reach more of our local communities through the cooking workshops and skills sessions, so that, like Phoenix, others can grow in their cooking skills, nutritional knowledge and develop confidence for a better future.”

To find out more about about The Friendly Food Club and to take part in one of their free cookery classes visit www.thefriendlyfoodclub.org/