Migrateful aims to improve wellbeing and quality of life for refugees and asylum seekers living in Britain, and to facilitate integration between British citizens and refugees. These aims are reflected in six measurable outcomes:
- To improve wellbeing for refugees and asylum seekers
- To improve English skills for refugees and asylum seekers
- To increase confidence and leadership skills for refugees and asylum seekers
- To widen social networks for refugees and asylum seekers
- To increase employability for refugees and asylum seekers
- To facilitate positive interaction between British citizens and the UK migrant community.
There are many refugee food initiatives, many of which involve the refugee cooking for others as part of a social enterprise catering service. Migrateful is different because we facilitate a coming together of people where the refugee is the leader and the centre of attention, empowering them through skill sharing. It is a time for them to be celebrated and listened to. Throughout the asylum process, refugees are needing to constantly ask for help which is draining: Migrateful is a chance for them to give something back. Our chefs often comment on this aspect of the project. Our Nigerian chef, Betty, told us: “I didn’t have the confidence to speak or talk in front of others, but now I can speak to groups of people.” Another said: “People enjoyed my cooking so much, which gives me so much confidence that I am not useless. I can do something.” Not only does the chef get a chance to lead a cookery class, but the weekly chef training group has become a supportive lifeline through ongoing difficulties. Our chefs have described the group as ‘like one big family’, with one reporting: “It feels that coming in this group we are not called a refugee or asylum seeker. We are called a person which means we get respect, love and care.”
The project has shown demonstrable benefits for chefs, customers and the wider community. We know from feedback from our chefs and customers that they really value what Migrateful offers. Netsi, our Eritrean chef, told Jess: ‘Migrateful helped me to feel more positive about life, because it helped me to do something I love, which is cooking!’. Iqra, our Pakistani chef, reported: “Since I arrived in the UK three years ago as an asylum seeker, this is the best project I’ve found, it has changed my life.”. Migrateful is also successful in facilitating positive social interactions between different cultural groups. Class participants have reported: ‘It is an absolutely fantastic way to spend time with friends, meet new people, and learn about a culture and cooking in a cosy, well-equipped, fun and safe setting’. Another told us the class was ‘an enriching way to spend an evening. Cooking and eating with new people, talking and learning about other lives, food and cultures’.
The Migrateful model centres around its chefs, who are given the support to work on their own projects beyond the weekly classes. Our Syrian chef, Majeda, felt angry about her people in Syria being caught in a military siege in Eastern Ghouta since 2012. We hosted an event called ‘Siege Soup for Syria’ where Majeda and other speakers invited by her, talked about what was happening in Syria and what we could do to help. The event was an enormous success, attracting over 60 people across London: the largest Migrateful event to date. Through this process, we have learned the importance of trusting and supporting chefs to run their own projects, which have enormous potential for growing Migrateful as a whole, and how we can use our social media network to harness support for the plight of our chefs, giving them a platform for their voice to be heard.
Read more about our chefs’ stories here