Causeway Chronicle

Portstewart Men’s Shed hosts community cooking

The Mayor, Cllr Ciarán McQuillan, Men’s Shed Working Group member Gerry Mullan

Members of Portstewart Men’s Shed have been busy in the kitchen for the last number of months cooking up delicious dishes from across the world.

The ‘Be Safe Be Well’ Community Kitchen, provides a space for those who do not have their own space to cook. It gives them the ability to try out recipes in a community setting and the culinary results are then shared with their Men’s Shed peers.

The initiative, which has received financial support as part of Council’s Asylum Dispersal programme and is funded by The Executive Office, enables relationship building, cultural exchange, and the common ground which food so often provides.

To coincide with the 2024 Refugee Week, Council is highlighting the important work done by the Shed. 

The Community Kitchen itself is open to men aged over 25, offering all kinds of flavours and cuisines to be cooked and eaten. The men in attendance are from the local area, which includes men who are seeking sanctuary.

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Ciarán McQuillan said: “It is always fantastic to visit outreach programmes like this within the Borough. 

“I very much enjoyed meeting members of the Portstewart Men’s Shed including those from different cultures each with their own unique story. The quality of cooking on display was incredible and it was great to see the variety of dishes from countries across the globe that were being served.”

“Men’s Sheds are a vital resource for our residents, and I’d like to thank everyone involved in them throughout the Borough.”

Council’s Good Relations Officer, Sara Glendinning said: “This initiative is heartwarming to witness. It offers the men some independence, an outlet to provide hospitality to others and an opportunity to celebrate and share cultures. 

“It’s fantastic to experience, not only the amazing flavours in the food, but the welcoming, safe space that the Men’s Shed have created. Whether it’s eating a meal, playing a game of pool, or repairing recycled bikes, the Men’s Shed is providing an essential service for men’s mental health that is needed now more than ever.”

Catherine Taylor, Project Director of Be Safe, Be Well, added: “I love to see people from other nations being able to cook food from their country and their home for local members of the community.

“It gives them a purpose for their day and acts as a tool for integrating with locals and others from different countries too – who might not have eaten food similar to their own for a long time.” 

She continued: “The kitchen empowers existing chefs and offers a space to use the skills they might not have been able to use for some time. It increases cultural diversity, helps practice the English language and, we believe it improves mental health. 

“When the men gather for food, there are also the indirect benefits of playing pool and snooker together, and picking up instruments to play music. The funding we received from Good Relations, through The Executive Office, allows us to provide ingredients for the food and we’re so appreciative of that.”

The Community Kitchen project has given the Men’s Shed members the opportunity to practice their cooking skills, exchange recipes, and enjoy a variety of meals. The men attending have also experienced other ways of eating, such as sitting on the floor and using hands instead of cutlery, which is common in other cultures.

Council would like to encourage other initiatives in the community who might experience food waste, to consider donating small amounts of excess ingredients to the Men’s Shed. To do so, please contact the Men’s Shed first, and if appropriate, they could be used to create delicious, home cooked meals.

Portstewart Men’s Shed is open from 10-3pm every Tuesday and Thursday and is located on Portstewart’s Central Avenue. 

Further information can be found via the Be Safe Be Well website www.besafebewell.co.uk, or their Facebook site ‘Be Safe Be Well Men’s Sheds’. Alternatively, you can call Be Safe Be Well Programme staff on 028 777 69829.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Ciarán McQuillan, alongside Men’s Shed member Craig, playing a game of snooker

The Mayor, Cllr Ciarán McQuillan, alongside Ali and Babi from the Men’s Shed

The Mayor, Cllr Ciarán McQuillan, alongside Project Director of Be Safe, Be Well, Catherine Taylor

Causeway Chronicle

Causeway Chronicle