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Garioch Community Kitchen receives The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

By David Porter

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Garioch Community Kitchen based at the Wyness Hall in Inverurie have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary organisation can receive in the UK.

Established in 2012 Garioch Community Kitchen exists to enhance the health and wellbeing of the local community within Garioch and Formartine.

This is done by providing practical, hands on, innovative accredited cookery courses and classes to both children and adults.

These are delivered by trained professionals and dedicated volunteers within a purpose-built training kitchen as well as on an outreach basis.

Garioch Community Kitchen is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.

Additionally, this year there is a special designation being given to selected QAVS awardees.

This is for groups who have provided impactful support to the community in response to the pandemic last year - either by managing a significant increase in their usual work or providing extra support in other ways.

Garioch Community Kitchen has been selected for this designation.

Representatives of Garioch Community Kitchen will receive the award crystal and certificate from Sandy Manson, Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire later this summer.

Sarah Bell, business development manager at the Kitchen said: “We are absolutely delighted to have the work of our organisation and dedicated volunteers recognised with this award.

"We are a small team at the Garioch Community Kitchen and without the help, support and hard work of our volunteers both past and present we would not be able to deliver the service we do within the community.

"Within a typical year we would usually have between 3000 and 4000 people use our service both in house or an outreach basis.

"The global pandemic this past year has certainly been challenging for us, "

"We had to close the doors on our face-to-face cookery classes last March, however we were determined not to sit back and decided we needed to turn our attention on what we could do as opposed to what we couldn’t do.

"We focused our attention on providing food parcels to families who were struggling due to the pandemic with a particular emphasis on providing fresh fruit and vegetables. "Between April 2020 and December 2020, we provided over 1840 food parcels to local families and worked very closely with our friends and partners at Inverurie, Kemnay and Meldrum Academy to identify families and with the help of the Inverurie Free Masson’s get the parcels delivered to those in need."

The Kitchen develops cooking skills for youngsters
The Kitchen develops cooking skills for youngsters

She continued: "Another initiative we trialled last autumn was a new form of cookery course which is not like anything we have done before.

"We allocated an individual time slot for people to come to the outside of the premises and collect a recipe bag.

"This contained ingredients, information about what they will be cooking as well as printed literature to help them.

"They then do all the cooking at home and provide feedback.

"The following week they have the chance to discuss how they got on and what, if any changes they would make next time.

"We are also currently running two courses aimed at teenagers to help them to cook healthy, affordable meals for themselves."

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