King’s Arms Project

It’s often noted that the line between security and insecurity is narrower than we might like to imagine. Certain incidents in life can lead to a chain of events that ultimately lead to some form of addiction or even homelessness. This happens all around us, and the challenge of supporting people experiencing this dramatic spiral is crucial.

In Bedford, one of the groups seeking to address these issues is the Kings Arms Project. The charity states that we believe there is no such thing as a hopeless case. It works with vulnerable people on the margins of our society, helping them reintegrate with everyday life.

The scale of the challenge is significant. The Kings Arms Project supports hundreds of people in Bedford every year.

Food etc approached Kings Arms Projects as it felt it could help with the reintegration process. The team offered to run a 6-part cookery course, with the aim of helping participants to learn new skills, manage a food budget efficiently, and cook healthily.

The restrictions resulting from the pandemic meant the first course had to be held online, but the results were impressive. 

Phil Jones, learning and engagement co-ordinator at The Kings Arms Project, said that “the sessions have helped to activate people. Homelessness is an extraordinarily isolating experience, and our aim is to help people reconnect with others. Through the sessions we have seen people share their cooking successes and failures with one another, and indeed online with others. I feel that the Food etc sessions are becoming an important part of this process of reconnection.”

Philippa Bloom is the Pathways team leader at The Kings Arms Project added “when people are cooking, they are simply a bunch of people coming together to cook. We learn from each other. Thus a new community has been formed, and from this, other connections will follow.

“Food etc’s Julie Clay is a wonderful coach. She’s extremely professional, and she’s also empowering, respectful and funny! She puts people at ease brilliantly, and lets people take the sessions where they want to take them. We’re delighted she found us and we found her!”

The cookery sessions are now allowed to take place in person as the programme goes from strength to strength.

Phil Jones concludes “we’re often working with people with deeply entrenched behaviours, and we’re looking to steer them away from the homeless world to everyday society. Food etc has become integral to what we’re doing.”