Change text size  Make page text smaller Make page text biggerLoginAbout UsContact Us
Physical ActivityMental WellbeingWeight ManagementHealthy EatingChances 4 Change
Case Studies

Improving Health Project Cook & Eat Programme

Published by Rachel Chun
Project Coordinator
Hampshire Partnership Foundation Trust
Telephone 02380 241336

A 6 week programme aimed to provide beneficiaries with practical cooking skills, to learn about food and healthy eating in a practical way, develop confidence in cooking and create healthy meals ona budget

Our delivery partners are...

Solent MIND and Rethink resource centres, Southampton Dieticians, Community Mental Health Teams, Early Intervention in Psychosis teams and Assertive Outreach teams


We have funding and support from...

The Improving Health Project is supported by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.  The project is headed by Hampshire Partnership Trust and covers the whole of Hampshire.  Referrals are taken solely from Secondary Care Services and the project works with beneficiaries in the Community that are suffering from severe and enduring mental health problems. 

Various groups to encourage physical activity such as football and swimming have been supported financially by the Hampshire IOW Return to Sport initiative. 

The main group work deliverables were the provision of Weight Management Groups and Cook & Eat Groups



The project is located in...



The start and finish dates of the project are...

The Project began in July 2008 and will run until 31st March 2011.


The people helped are...

The Project works with predominantly with Adults although referrals from Early Intervention in Psychosis teams can be as young as 14 years old.  All beneficiaries are under Secondary Health Services and have a Care Coordinator / Mental Health Practioner to hold clinical responsibility.  The project workers engage with people in 1:1 work and in group settings to promote healthy lifestyle changes around the areas of physical activity and health eating to lead towards a more positive mental wellbeing.


The aim of the Cook & Eat programme is to provide particiapants with

  • Practical Cooking Skills
  • Food Hygeine and Safety information
  • Sufficient knowledge to be able to create healthy meals on a budget


Particiapants have the opportunity to

  • Learn about food and healthy eating in a fun and practical way
  • Develop an interest and confidence in cooking
  • Taste new foods
  • Gain useful tips on menu planning and budgeting


The aim of each cooking session is to have around 6 - 8 participants, depending on facilities available.  Staffing for the sessions includes the course leader and a project worker.  It is important that all the participants are able to attend all the seesions if possible and participate fully in the cooking activities.  Participants are expected to join in the tasting of the food at the end of the session.

What they have said is...

"I can't believe how easy it is to make home made soup and it tastes delicious.  I definitely intend to try this at home."

We set up the project because...

When a person suffers from a mental health condition their motivation and confidence levels often plummet.  There is often very little interest in eating healthily, eating 3 meals a day, planning menus, being able to cook healthily on a budget.  Packet or microwave meals often feature in people's daily eating plans as does junk food and takeaways. 

Medication and it's sides effects also take its toll.  Many people with a mental health diagnosis will report having put on excessive weight oce they have started medication.  This can in turn lead to diabetes, cholesterol and heart problems and can also present an obstacle to doing physical activity.

The difference this project makes is...

  • Participants are encourage to prepare, cook and eat a wide variety of foods
  • Confidence and motivation levels are increased around buying, preparing and eating a healthy diet based around the Eatwell Plate
  • Working in a group helps with social inclusion and participants are encouraged to work together in small teams to offer support and encouragement
  • Participants are given the recipicies at the end of each session and encouraged to try them at home to increase their confidence. 


What we did or are doing

The Cook & Eat programme was designed with our particular beneficiaries in mind.  It starts slowly with an introduction the the Eatwell Plate and portion sizes and the first seesion invites participants to make fruit smoothies and healthy vegetable soups.  As the programme progresses the recipes include stir fries, pasta dishes and healthy versions of familiar takeaway favourites such as pizza.  Kneading the dough for your pizza base can be very therapeutic!!

We chose this method because...

Working in small groups over six sessions proved to be successful for most participants.  Some people suffering with anxiety issues or psychosis managed to feel comfortable with only a small group supported by project workers known to them. 

Starting with an introduction to the Eatwell Plate gave a general idea around healthy eating and portion sizes and the importance of eating regular balance meals. 

A couple of recipes were worked on at each session so as to keep it uncomplicated.  The recipes were clear and easy to read and follow. 


What's happened is...

The project has successfully run Cook & Eat programmes in Southampton, Basingstoke, the New Forest, Petersfield and Fareham & Gosport. 

What we'd do differently...

At times it was difficult to find suitable venues and those that were suitable were often very expensive to hire.  It was also a challenge to organise the groups around the part time hours of staff.  The greatest challenge was for people to attend every session.  Some participants who were well at one session could rapidly deteriorate in health over the course of six weeks which would mean them missing out on the continuity of the course.

It is our intention to combine the Cook & eat programme with our weight management programme.  We are shortly introducing our Healthy Lifestyles groups which will allow us to have 'rolling groups' to run for one hour a week, catering for up to 12 people per session.  The intension is to provide information around healthy eating and physical activity in one package in a venue that will not need cooking facilities.  The healthy recipes from the Cook & Eat programme can be discussed and handed out and fruit smoothis can be drummed up pretty much anywhere!


Participants complete an evaluation form at the end of the 6 sessions to assess their confidence and knowledge around healthy eating and to ask what the gained most from participating in the programme

This project helped to deliver...

The programme helped to introduce healthy eating concepts and promote cooking skills in a socially inclusive way to those suffering from various mental health conditions. 

The project is now...

looking to the Trust to see whether it is a viable project to continue

Additional information or comments?

Type any comments here


Print this page
Lead Organisation Hampshire Partnership Foundation Trust
Geographical Area Hampshire/IOW
Outcomes Improving health
Beneficiary Age Adults
Beneficiary Groups People at risk of mental health problems
Type of activity Early intervention, Equalities and inclusion
Primary Theme Mental Wellbeing
Secondary Themes Eating for Health Healthy Weight Physical Activity



Share with your fellow practitioners

Promote events, advertise jobs, share documents, links and case studies by clicking here »

Sign up

& receive our newsletter alert