Every day the news brings with it stories of sadness and distress as refugees from war torn countries journey through hazardous conditions to find themselves a better life. But among these tales of tragedy are some silver linings of hope.

You might have read our article about how a fundraiser for donations to the RNLI went viral after Nigel Farage publicised his ire at immigrants desperately seeking refuge. Well, what was then a sum of £34k is now a gold pot of more than £120k. People are impassioned to help others out.

If this is a cause close to your heart, there are so many other ways to get involved. As serious foodies at The Handbook, we’ve uncovered the best way to show some solidarity… through eating.

The charity Migrateful was set up by Jess Thompson in 2017. She came up with the idea after working on the frontline to support migrants and refugees in Ceuta, Morocco, Dunkirk refugee camp in France, and London, and found that people’s passion for food was a uniting factor across all cultures.

The aim of Migrateful is to support the integration of migrants into life in the UK through cooking classes. The classes provide migrants with networks, employment and a sense of community. As well as that, the classes are a way to challenge people’s perceptions about refugees and humanise their plight, so they’re not just a stat in a newspaper.

These cooking classes are a way to challenge people's perceptions about refugees and humanise their plight, so they're not just a stat in a newspaper.

It's not just cooking. It's cooking with an emotional story.

Migrateful does all this through classes, tutorials and catering run by migrant chefs across London and Bristol. These include:

In-person classes
From Islington to Peckham, you can find intimate cookery classes where you’ll be taught by a migrant chef to cook up dishes from their home town. It’s a magical way of cooking together, sharing food and swapping stories. And you get to pick up some expert cooking tips along the way.

Online cookery classes
Follow an online tutorial class for £20. Simply log into a Zoom link and follow the chefs step by step. You’ll be sent a list of the equipment and ingredients that you need before the class and then you just need to log on.

Team-building classes
You can create bespoke classes for your workplace over Zoom. You can pick a chef of your choice and then provide all the details for your team to work at home from their kitchen. It’s a great way to get remote teams bonding.

Private classes
Enjoy some cookery classes in the comfort of your own home. Whether it’s for a hen do, a birthday party or a big old knees-up, get chopping, boiling and bubbling in the kitchen for an intimate and special cooking experience.

Invite the Migrateful chefs to cater for your event through street food stalls, buffets or three-course private dinners.

The unique thing about Migrateful is that it’s not just cooking. It’s cooking with an emotional story.

Meet Stella from Nigeria. She started cooking from a very young age, working in her mother’s street food restaurant making akara, a popular cake made from beans and plantain. They used to grow their own organic aubergines, okra, mango, palm, beans and yam – ingredients that were always so fresh and tasty. However, she met a man who promised her a new life in London, but when she arrived she ended up experiencing years of abuse and racism. She finally managed to escape with the help of a friend and found a supportive community through Migrateful. Her aim is to be a chef and share her passion for flavour through recipes.

Then there’s Momo from Syria. He grew up as Palestinian refugee in Daraa, Syria, but had to flee when war broke out, leaving his degree as a vet. He took on a perilous journey on his own through Turkey and eventually settled in the UK in 2019 through the UNHCR resettlement scheme. His dream is to set up a Syrian cheese-making business and teach others with his endless passion for cooking.

These are just two people who have experiences some of the hardest trials a person can live through, but found support and community through this network of cooking. There are a whole host of chefs that work with Migrateful and run classes, Zoom tutorials and private sessions. Take the time to ditch the newspapers, learn something new and get to know the real people behind the stories you read every day.

Stella from Nigeria used to grow her own organic aubergines, okra, mango, palm, beans and yam.

Find out more on how to get involved at: www.migrateful.org

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