New project aims to get Angus healthy

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A community collaborative group is hoping to be at the centre of helping Angus families eat more healthily.

The Healthy Happy Communities Collaborative organises cooking sessions in Brechin and Arbroath, as well as Health Start Cafes in Brechin and Forfar.

The collaborative, made up of Voluntary Action Angus, Transform Dundee, Just Play and NHS Tayside, supports young families who are keen to learn how to cook fresh meals and lead healthier lifestyles.

Healthy Start Cafés run once a week and are a great way for parents with children under 12 months to share experiences and learn from each other. Mums and dads are invited to try a healthy snack or a soup suitable for weaning children, and visitors are welcome to learn from existing volunteers and join the team in helping make healthy food for those using the café. The cafés have learning sessions built into the programme, which cover everything from budget advice to making healthier food choices.

Just Play deliver cooking classes in Brechin with support from the collaborative. The classes are for local people looking for some hands on cooking support in order to improve their cooking ability and learn how to make better choices when it comes to what they eat.

The collaborative also supports cooking classes in Arbroath and provides training in weaning foods across various agencies in Angus.

Shona Burge, Project Manager of the collaborative, explains: “These services have been running for over three years, and at any given time we could be supporting around 30 people as they decide to change their lifestyles for the benefit of their families and themselves.

“The café and cookery sessions are really popular. They are relaxed and the teams that volunteer and run them are open and friendly so it really encourages those who attend to make the most of the time that they spend there. Some of the parents attending the Healthy Start Cafés have now started making their own food instead of buying pre-packed foods, and they have said that they have been inspired by the volunteers. Others have requested recipes, especially for those healthy options which are quick and easy to make, such as soups.

“The sessions have also encouraged the exchange of hints and tips when it comes to paying for the weekly shop, and money saving tips and offers are a popular discussion at the weekly drop-ins.”