Finance Minister presents Global Kitchen certificates
On 4 August, Finance Minister Máirtín O’Muilleoir MLA presented certificates to a group of asylum seekers and refugees who successfully completed the Global Kitchen course.
He congratulated them and praised their tenacity and talent:
“Refugees and asylum seekers are a boon to our society, adding to the diversity of our great city and allowing us to show the compassion and kindness which is the cornerstone of our community.
The refugees and asylum seekers recognised tonight have overcome adversity, exile and persecution to emerge as ambassadors of goodwill and of hospitality for their adopted community.
I wish them well in their journey and reiterate my belief that the current London government policies and treatment of asylum seekers is punitive and senseless.
I look forward to the day when these talented and generous guests – these latter-day Good Samaritans – of our society can make a full contribution to our community.”
The Global Kitchen catering course
Global Kitchen trainees receive supportive but rigorous training in international cookery and food hygiene in a café setting. They work towards an Open College qualification.
They test their skills in celebratory events where they serve food to local residents and members of Black and Ethnic Minorities.
The course includes a Food Hygiene Certification. This was taken up by 7 more participants through Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group, the Welcome Organisation and Horn of Africa People’s Aid.
Asylum seekers can wait several years to be recognized as refugees. Meanwhile, they are not allowed to work, training opportunities are scarce and they live on a minimal income.
Destitute asylum seekers are people who have been refused refugee status but cannot leave the country, for example because it may be too dangerous back home. They do not receive any State support, are not allowed to work, and depend entirely on charity.
The course offers them a rare opportunity to gain skills and a qualification and improve their quality of life.
In the words of one participant: “it’s not like a training, it’s like a family.”
Organizer Stephanie Mitchell praised their achievement:
“Most of the trainees achieved the full OCN certificate, an outstanding feat given the personal circumstances of some of them, and the stress, anxiety and depression that frequently accompanies the asylum application process.
They proved hungry to learn, highly motivated and very appreciative of the opportunity.
Most have continued to work or volunteer in food-based enterprises.”
Future projects: WelcomeFeast
This project is a spin-off of Belfast Friendship Club. It was made possible thanks to a Big Lottery grant and training by Urban Community Chef Mark Humphries.
It is due to run again in the Autumn. It will include a feast catered by Global Kitchen trainees to raise awareness of:
- food poverty
- how to contribute to foodbanks through donations and/or volunteering
- making tasty nutritious food on a tight budget
- zero waste.
It will be a joint project with British Red Cross NI.
More details will be announced in September.