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St Mary's Teams up with Age UK Richmond to Teach Men Cooking Skills

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Health and Wellbeing Services at St Mary’s University, Twickenham has teamed up with Age UK Richmond to run a six-week cooking and nutrition course for men, over the age of 50, in the local community.

The project, entitled Man With a Pan (MWAP), is an Age UK initiative, which Health and Wellbeing Services developed to include a strong nutrition base. Led by Project Manager in Health and Wellbeing Services Abbie Downey, as part of her MSc Human Nutrition research project, participants in the programme receive a 40-minute interactive nutrition talk, covering topics including micro and macro nutrients, salt, food labels, and food hygiene amongst others.

Working with students from the BSc Nutrition programme, the participants take part in a 50-minute cookery lesson, producing two to three dishes each session. The programme culminates with a social half hour as the participants share tips and eat the food they’ve produced.

Speaking on the programme Abbie Downey said, “It has been a really exciting and rewarding project and I’m really glad we’ve had the opportunity to roll it out to future groups. The feedback from the men attending has been really positive and they have all enjoyed learning some nutritional underpinning alongside their new cooking skills. The courses have not only been beneficial to those attending the classes but also students of the university. They have been able to apply their nutrition degree knowledge to real life situations and work with local members of their community.”

Community Services Co-ordinator at Age UK Richmond Susan Hollins added, “The idea is to reach men who are in danger of becoming, or are already, isolated, perhaps due to changes in personal circumstances. Traditionally, many men were not the cooks in the family, and so are prone to not taking such good care of their nutrition and diet if they find themselves on their own in older age.

“The courses are as much about getting together socially and meeting like-minded people as they are about learning good cooking and nutrition skills. That’s why the ongoing clubs are so good as they encourage the men to stay in touch.”

MWAP has proven so successful that it now runs on a regular basis, with a 6 week course currently running over the summer and the next six-week course beginning on 28th September. Places can be booked by contacting Age UK Richmond on 020 8744 1965 or

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