Young carers find help on the menu

Healthy tips: Young carers Diana and Shannon take part in cookery lessons at Sheffield's Lifewise Centre
Healthy tips: Young carers Diana and Shannon take part in cookery lessons at Sheffield's Lifewise Centre
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A talented chef at Sheffield’s award-winning gastro pub the Milestone is off to teach cookery skills to the city’s young carers.

Research shows the 2,000 Sheffield children and young people who care for a member of their family are seldom taught how to cook – and some could even be at risk of developing eating disorders as they struggle to cope with stress.

During a four-day cookery course at Sheffield Hallam University next week, 15 carers under 16 will be taught how to cook cheap, quick and healthy basic family meals for themselves and those they care for. The course will also focus on self esteem and body image concerns.

This unique project, a joint initiative with South Yorkshire Eating Disorders Association, came about after SYEDA’s staff attended a Young Carers event.

Saima Younis of SYEDA remembers: “I got talking to some of the young carers and discovered some of them were under or over-eating as a classic response to the pressures they were facing. Part of my role is helping develop healthier eating habits instead of using food for control or comfort.”

Milestone chef James Wallis is looking forward to inspiring the kids with some of his top tips. Marc Sheldon, co-owner, said: “We’re more than happy to free up some of James’ time to help young carers. It’s good to be able to give something back and help people.”

Other carers will be helped via a film of the course, being made for free by Pseudonym Films, and a cookery book. With the support of law firm Irwin Mitchell, a fundraising 30-minute meals recipe book will be produced, including budgeting ideas, healthy eating tips and inspiring stories from former young carers.

An appeal is running for donations of cookery utensils to hand out to young carers who don’t have the basics many families take for granted. Says Laura Selby, young carers development worker: “We would like to give each of the 15 young people taking part colanders, rolling pins, cheese graters, tin openers, spatulas and wooden spoons.”

Rotherham catering suppliers Russums and Sheffield cutlery and crockery company 3-Source have stepped in to give support, but many more items are still required. Contact laura@sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk 0114 258 4595 or Saima@syeda.org.uk 0114 2728822.

If you know a young carer struggling to cope go to www.sheffieldyoungcarers.org.uk

For help with an eating disorder, call the SYEDA Help Line Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am-5pm on 0114 272 8822.