Coexist Community Kitchen, a non-profit cookery school that brings people together through food, had been evicted from its Hamilton House premises in 2018.
However, their light new space in Mivart Studios is open and the Coexist team and has exciting plans for the near future.
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Founded nearly nine years ago by Ari Cantwell, Coexist Community Kitchen aims is to provide people, particularly those marginalised by society, with a space where they can come together and build connections, learning and gaining confidence, all while enjoying cooking and good food.
Claudia Poligioni, who has now been with Coexist for four years, says that the cooking classes not only give people a chance to enjoy themselves, but also really help those who feel isolated, some of whom may be suffering from mental illness, addiction or are asylum seekers.
“Where you are sort of like isolated, you lose all your connections,” says Claudia. “We found that food and cooking together really allows for that sort of connection.”
Claudia moved from Italy to Bristol five years ago. Prior to learning English she found that the best way for her to connect with others was through food.
The emphasis is less on the classes themselves, although learning cooking skills is a crucial part of what Coexist Community Kitchen does, but more on bringing people together, instilling a sense of community and providing affordable and inclusive meals.
Parallel to the cooking classes, Coexist also runs events, provides catering, team building and workshops. Some of the upcoming workshops include Italian cheese, pasta and bread making, with all the proceeds going back into the project to help it continue.
Though the 2018 eviction from Hamilton house was traumatic for not only Coexist but all those reliant on it, the new space in Mivart studios is bright, warm and oozes positivity. The kitchen is filled with delicious smells and happy faces, and the dining room offers a peaceful space for everyone to sit and share their food comfortably.
The eviction pushed them to prove that it wasn’t the end and an impressive £25,000 was raised to help fund the move. It’s clear that Coexist has come out of the other end and is back in full fledge.
A community lunch is hosted every Thursday from 9.30am-3.30pm. Additionally, a one-off event is being held on Friday, March 6: Una serata a Roma will be a three course banquet designed by Italian restaurant owner, Carlotta Cacialli.
All photos by Lilly Subbotin. Main photo of Claudia Poligioni