Jamie Oliver helps Blackpool dads learn to cook

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When it's their turn to cook, this group of Blackpool dads will be showing off their new skills in the kitchen.

For thanks to a hands-on cookery programme developed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the group has learned how to produce healthy, tasty meals on a budget.

Dads taking part in one of the cooking sessions

Dads taking part in one of the cooking sessions

In partnership with Blackpool Council, Blackpool Better Start whose aim is to improve the lives of young children in the town, helped them take part in Jamie’s Ministry of Food programme.

Over the course of eight-weeks, the dads learnt how to cook healthy and affordable meals for their families, with home-made favourites such as spaghetti and meatballs and salmon fishcakes on the menu.

They were recruited to take part in the project as part of Better Start’s work engaging with fathers across Blackpool.

All have children aged under four, and free childcare was arranged so they could attend the sessions at Westminster Chidren's Centre in North Shore.

Katie Whale, a health connector at Blackpool Better Start, said: “The dads were proudly able to enjoy their creations with their little ones and introduce them to new flavours – with one youngster enjoying her first taste of scrambled eggs.

“At the beginning of the course, we asked the dads to record their scores about how confident they felt in being able to cook from basic ingredients. We were so impressed to see this figure improved by 64 per cent by the end of the eight weeks."

Not only have they learnt new kitchen skills, the course has also enabled the dads to bond with fellow fathers and make new friends, supporting each other along the way.

One of the dads, Darren, said: “It’s really opened my eyes to what’s in food, and cooking from fresh you know exactly what’s going in. It’s money-saving and is motivating me to cook at home.”

Val Hutson, of Blackpool Council's public health team, said: “It was lovely watching them grow in confidence, trying new foods and hearing how they have impressed their families and friends cooking the recipes at home. "

Any fathers or male role models interested in Better Start’s Dads’ Programme can find out more by emailing owen.cecd@nspcc.org.uk or telephoning 01253 476789.