The Plant-Based Community Cookery School
Posted Wednesday 29th May 2019...
It's Volunteers Week 2019! And we're celebrating all our amazing, talented, enthustiastic and hard working volunteers that make our world go round at Made in Hackney! We LOVE these guys.
First Up. Meet Jill Lucas (Centre left in pic.) She volunteers at Made In Hackney as a class leader, host and events assistant, supporting the delivery of our cookery sessions and outreach events. As a trained nutritionist Jill explains how she is able to combine her professional knowledge with her love of community. Our apprentice Adele had a chat with her to find out more.
Adele: Hey Jill Just wanted to say thank you! As you are one of our most dedicated volunteers at the top of our leader board for number of hours completed this year. Epic!
Jill: Awwwww that’s so lovely. Thank you!
Adele: So, what different types of volunteering have you done for MIH?
Jill: I have mostly volunteered as a class host on community classes, plus some masterclasses, 6-week community courses and at events like Morning Gloryville, children fun days and corporate events.
Adele: Wow so you have done a lot! What has been your favourite?
Jill: I would have to say the 6-week cookery programmes at the recovery centres. One group of women in particular, from Grace House, a residential centre for women in recovery from drugs and alcohol. The group already knew each other so we quickly moved past the initial small talk to more meaningful conversations with people and having fun.
As a nutritionist I am able to use my nutrition knowledge in different settings and see how this can really help people. Some of the people that I met had never cooked before, so it was amazing to be able to encourage and support them in doing something completely new. I love being able to share my knowledge with others. Plus I learn so much in return, notably about presentation and gardening - which I was rubbish at before!
Adele: What led you to Made in Hackney?
Jill: When I was working abroad in disaster relief and humanitarian aid, I slowly and accidentally transitioned into veganism, initially because of nutrition and the health benefits. I thought I had gone off on a crazy tangent, so coming home to the UK I was keen to find vegan-related charities to work with. A few people I had met volunteering recommended Made in Hackney, so I contacted them quickly after I returned home last December. I love the work that Made in Hackney do! Helping people improve their health through nutrition was one of the reasons why I studied nutrition in the first place.
Adele: What keeps you coming back to volunteer at more events?
Jill: The wonderful supportive community that MIH have created, I love everything - the team, participants, kitchen! I was looking for a community similar to what I found when working abroad and this is exactly it - full of people who really care about others and wanting to make the world a better place - super cheesy but super true. I think that everyone is going to be nice, but I am always wonderfully surprised about how amazing and kind everyone is. It really is such a special organisation.
Adele: What could improve your volunteering experience?
Jill: Doing more!
Adele: What is your favourite dish you have made while volunteering?
Jill: The Turkish Community Class was just incredible; I've never tasted food like it. The teacher even brought her own pomegranate molasses from Turkey!
Adele: Have you gained anything from volunteering that perhaps you were not expecting?
Jill: I got the opportunity to teach a community class, which I didn't think I would be able to do as I prefer to be in the background. But actually, it was amazing, the volunteers and participants made it so easy, comfortable and fun! But logistically I had no idea how hard it was to run a class, juggling multiple recipes and people. I have even more respect for the teachers now!
Adele: Anything else you would like to share with us?
Jill: The classes and organisation are about so much more than plant-based eating, nutrition or cooking. MIH have done an amazing job at setting a wonderfully friendly supportive environment and created community both amongst themselves and the participants, which is so desperately needed. It's an amazing organisation to be part of. I'm really proud of them, and I hope they continue to further their reach!
Read more inspiring volunteer stories during Volunteers Week from Otilia, Samah and Leo
If you're inspired to volunteer with us please head on over to our Volunteers Page and check out the roles on offer.