Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Catherine: a year with the Mini Cooking Club

This month is Catherine's one year anniversary at the Mini Cooking Club. She has been volunteering as communications officer, and is responsible for looking after social media, the Mini Cooking Club blog, and the e-newsletter. She has also been involved in other activities such as fundraising, events, volunteer recruitment and cooking classes.

What made you volunteer for the Mini Cooking Club in the first place?

I was working in a role that I wasn't really enjoying and the type of work wasn't at all what I wanted to do. I had only just graduated from my MA course in English Literature, so I was in search of more practical experience to help me find a job that would enable me to use the written skills I had learned. Also, I wanted to volunteer to help others and become more involved in the community. As I was living in South London at the time, and that is where the Club is based, my twin sister - who was previously also a volunteer for the Mini Cooking Club - recommended I apply for this role.

What is the most significant thing(s) you've learned over the past year?

I've learned how many great people there are to meet in the voluntary sector. The vast majority of people are very passionate about what they're doing and helping others. I also became - I hope! - much more skilled at writing technically. For example, how to communicate your message simply and effectively, and what type of writing best suits the web. Also, more interesting things to cook from Cecilia, the Mini Cooking Club's founder!

Why do you think healthy eating and cooking are important?

For a proper enjoyment of life, you need to feel healthy and the food you eat is a massive part of that. Schools can often be over stretched, so children might not learn valuable information about nutrition or really get a chance to learn practical skills. Obviously cooking skills give you the power to choose exactly what you eat, and those skills need to be learned! The Mini Cooking Club inspires children and adults to enjoy cooking.

What is a memory of the past year at the Club that really stands out?

When we tried to hold a fundraising cake sale and it decided to pour with rain. The tents we were under weren't very waterproof and it was also blowing a gale-force wind. Everyone was so helpful and positive, and I learned that sometimes you just have to adapt to circumstances! We still sold all the cakes.

What would you say to anyone else thinking of volunteering?

I would definitely say do it, but only after considering how much of your time you can give and whether you would be willing to give up, say, a few hours over consecutive Saturdays for a period of time to teach children how to cook! Volunteering is really fun and worth the while, but you only get out as much as you put in.

What about to someone who would like to learn to cook but is currently lacking in confidence?

I would say, it's perfectly natural to be nervous about trying something new but even the most famous, world-renowned chefs weren't born with a wooden spoon in their hand! Everyone learns the most basic skills first, so cutting vegetables and boiling pasta. Sure, you'll cook things that by common definition may be disgusting, but that is all part of the learning process. It's worth it for the sense of empowerment you'll get when you become more accomplished!

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