A grassroots project is using the power of cooking and sharing food to bring people together and help tackle isolation in Bristol’s older communities.
“We get to hear people’s stories and the memories stay with you,” says Kalpna Woolf, the founder of 91 Ways to Build a Global City and author of a new community cookbook.
Bristol Meets the World is a culmination of a two-year collaborative project led by the charity and Bristol Ageing Better. The collection of recipes is a celebration of the city’s diversity and a legacy of ongoing work to unite communities through food.
Cooks from many different cultural backgrounds were invited to share recipes and prepare meals with people over 50 in different areas of the city, from Southmead to Knowle West, alongside groups from care homes and welfare organisations.
Each cooking session finished with a communal meal shared by cooks, participants and volunteers, all sitting together to enjoy the food and share each other’s stories.
“I wanted the opportunity to connect communities through cooking,” explains Kalpna.
“It was a chance to bring communities and people from different backgrounds together. We get to cook and share food but it’s a deeper connection than that.
“These are people in the community who sometimes feel isolated and they love to go somewhere where they can make friends. Some of the people were not necessarily there to learn to cook but it was a chance to make friends and really deliver on our ambition as 91 Ways.
“Cooking and eating together has a real power. If we can get communities to work together during this time, it will really help to make us stronger.”
The cookbook, which is available to buy from Wednesday, June 3, will raise funds for 91 Ways at a time when so many charities and those they support are struggling.
Kalpna adds: “We believe our work is even more needed and will continue to be during the period we face and beyond. Our communities are suffering health-wise, economically and still feel disenfranchised and isolated. We aim to help communities stay close.”
Bristol Meets the World is a collaborative project between Avon Chinese Community Wellbeing Society, 91 Ways, Anchor Hanover, Brunelcare and The Care Forum, alongside the Pakistani Welfare Organisation.
It is available to buy from Wednesday, June 3 through the 91 Ways website for £12 including postage. All profits will go towards supporting the charities future community work across the city.
Main photo by Eliza Moreland