Delivering quality life skills services both with and to the community is the mission of Skills4Living Horowhenua, an organisation previously locally known as SuperGrans.
Their latest venture, in partnership with the Levin Uniting Church, has been to run cooking classes for men who may feel a tad domestically challenged.
One of the participants, Lindsay Mackay, said he'd seen the course being advertised on the Skills4Living's Facebook page and decided to reach out to a couple of friends he thought might be keen to join in.
The classes originally started out at the organisation's office in Bath St, but as interest grew, the premises proved to be too small.
At the same time, Brett Reid, the community connector for Levin Uniting Church, had a conversation with a widowed parishioner who was looking to increase his independence, especially in regards to his cooking skills.
Mackay, also a parishioner, spoke to Reid about a potential collaboration between Skills4Living and Levin Uniting Church to provide a bigger kitchen space for the cooking lessons, which would enable more men to take part.
As a result of this synergy, in mid-June five local men started a six-week "back to basics" cooking course, run by two mentors, in the church kitchen.
Another participant, Barry Cross, whose wife Jan died in April last year, said the lessons were perfect for someone like him who had never cooked before.
"It was a lot of fun and great to get hands-on experience...creating meals from scratch...being shown little tricks not always included in recipe books...even learning how to slice an onion properly," he said.
Skills4Living coordinator Kim Bradnock said the men worked as a team to cook meals for the whole group, which they then sat down to eat together.
"The social connection these gentlemen get through the course is just as important as the cooking skills they develop", she said.
Reid agreed: "The humility it takes to put yourself out there...to ask for help [is to be admired], especially with isolation and loneliness being major factors for the older generation in the Horowhenua area."
The feedback from other family members about the course has been very positive as well.
Cross's children are thrilled he wanted to learn how to cook, while Mackay's wife, Mary, said she is very proud of Lindsay for stepping out of his comfort zone "although I'm still waiting to see evidence of the skills he's developing," she laughed.
Bradnock said this is the first year Skills4Living had run a cooking course just for men, and they were extremely grateful for the support they'd got from the community for this endeavour, including funding for ingredients received from the profits of the 2021 Medieval Market.
Both Cross and Mackay said they'd gained confidence through the course and encourage other men to join up because "the mentors are very supportive and happy for you to ask as many questions as you need to".
Levin Uniting Church and Skills4Life will start another beginner cooking course in August. An intermediate level one course, aimed at the original group of men, is being introduced later in the year.
"We are extremely grateful to the church [for coming on board] and we hope to continue our relationship and look at offering similar courses to other groups within the community [in the future]," Bradnock said.
• If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in joining the next six-week men's cooking lessons, starting on Wednesday August 11 at 11am, get in touch with Brett Reid on 06-368-9392 or email@example.com; or Kim Bradnock on 06-367-0680 or firstname.lastname@example.org