20 Aug 2015

Care leavers have cooked up a solution to the challenges they faced in finding the money to eat properly – with the help of Reggae Reggae Sauce founder Levi Roots.

The young people, supported by The Children’s Society, have created a recipe book which aims to help people leaving the care system to eat healthily on a budget.

The Easy Pleasy Cookbook will be launched by the Cheshire East Care Leavers Group, which is run by the national charity, at 4pm on Thursday, August 20, at the Cheshire East Youth Support Service on Market Street in Crewe.  Guests will include members of the local corporate parenting board, on which some of the young people have a place – enabling them to ensure their voices heard.

The book includes recipes by several local care leavers and young people close to leaving care and 500 copies will be produced for their peers across Cheshire East.

There is also a sprinkling of celebrity stardust in the shape of a pizza recipe by Levi Roots, known for persuading the dragons of Dragons' Den to support his Caribbean-inspired Reggae Reggae sauce.

The Children’s Society, which supports cared for children and young people and care-leavers in Cheshire East, says these young adults are faced with a difficult transition to life outside care, and often find it difficult to secure employment.

It has been estimated that those who leave care without a job have only £21 a week to spend on food, drink and transport after bills and the new cookbook follows the success of last year’s £21 Challenge.

The challenge, run by the Cheshire East Care Leavers Group during last year’s National Care Leavers Week, saw professionals including staff from Cheshire East Council and The Children’s Society attempt to get by on £21.  It culminated in a Ready Steady Cook challenge to produce meals costing less than £3.

Laura Goodfellow, a participation worker for The Children’s Society in Cheshire, who helped the care-leavers produce the book, said: “Many care leavers will have had a really difficult start in life, so leaving the care system and fending for themselves can be a big challenge.

“Some care leavers will have to budget and cook for the first time and finding work can be hard, but organisations like The Children’s Society offer vital support and projects like this help raise awareness of these challenges.

“Helping these young people learn how to make affordable, healthy meals has been hugely rewarding and they have been a real inspiration in making this book so others can benefit from what they have learned.”

Trudy Mulgrew, 20, from Nantwich, who was in foster care for around seven years from the age of 10, said: “I was lucky because I started working at a supermarket when I was 17 but when I lost my job recently I really struggled for money.

“When you only have £21 for things like food and travelling for job interviews it is hard and I want people to understand that.

“The £21 and the cookbook have helped me lots in learning how to budget and I do think there should be more support for care leavers.”

Levi Roots said: “Food is an essential part of life and I know that many care leavers have very little money to spend on their main meal.

“I hope my recipe and the others in the book show that you can eat well and add a bit of colour to your kitchen on a budget.

“The young people involved in putting the book together have done a fantastic job and I hope it will make a difference to those during this difficult time in their lives.”

Cllr Rachel Bailey, Cheshire East Council Cabinet Member responsible for Children and Families said:  “We, as a council, have no greater responsibility than when acting as corporate parents to children and young people in care. 

“Cheshire East Council is committed and determined about giving care leavers the support and opportunities they need to thrive. 

“I applaud the innovative approach the young people have demonstrated to produce this cook book, highlighting  a really practical way in which they can be supported both in their transition to independence and to eating healthily on a budget.”

The Children’s Society has just secured £450,000 in Government funding to roll out a new programme called Care To Be Different in four areas of the country, including Cheshire East.

Care To Be Different offers one-to-one support for care leavers with the most complex needs, including around issues like sexual exploitation, lifestyle issues and leaving care, while some will be offered a placement in one of The Children’s Society’s shops through its Retail Assistant Traineeship programme.

Download the recipe book from our website.  

To follow coverage of the event on Twitter and support the book by Tweeting see the handles @ChildSocGM and @CheshireEast and the hashtags #EasyPleasy, #21Challenge and #careleavers.

ENDS

For further information contact Communications Officer, Rob Devey, on 0161 763 2172, 07814525918 or rob.devey@childrenssociety.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

1) It is a painful fact that many children and young people in Britain today are still suffering extreme hardship, abuse and neglect. Too often their problems are ignored and their voices unheard. Now it is time to listen and to act.

The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn.

We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future.

Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.

For more information visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @childrensociety or in the North West @ChildSocGM

2) Corporate Parenting is defined as “the formal and local partnerships between all services responsible for working together to meet the needs of looked after children, young people and care leavers”.