Bereaved teenagers supported through cookery

Categories: Care.

The initiative, which uses cooking together as therapy at the same time as providing vital life skills, follows the success of a similar course run by the hospice for bereaved adults.

Tania Brocklehurst, clinical bereavement coordinator, said: “The teenage years are a time when there’s a lot going on, with hormones flying around and the pressures of adolescence. Add bereavement to the equation and it can be really tough – not only for teenagers but for their families too. Connecting with them and knowing how to support them isn’t always easy. After the success of the adult ‘Cooking with Chris’ course, though, a course for teenagers seemed like the obvious next step.”

‘Teen Cooking with Chris’ aims to support teenagers who have been bereaved of a close family member under the care of the hospice. Five teenagers aged 11-17 took part in a pilot course, attending on Thursday nights for five weeks with a ‘significant adult.’

Tania explained: “By engaging them with cooking in pairs as a practical, supportive activity, the idea is that food becomes a therapeutic bridge between teenager and adult which enables conversation, helps increase understanding and enhances communication and bonding. It’s all about building resilience.”

Participant Daisy Green, 14, attended the course with her mum Sarah one week, her Dad, Russell another week and her Godmothers Alison Nicol and Kate Baker, who both live locally, on the other three weeks. 

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” admits Daisy, who took part following the sudden death of her grandmother, Jennifer, who lived with the family at their home in Great Gaddesden.

“I thought it might be really difficult, fast chopping and lots of flames, but it wasn’t at all. On the induction evening, we could say what we wanted to cook and they gave us really cool aprons, which we got to keep at the end.

“I did it because I wanted to learn to be a better cook and I definitely feel I am. It’s good to have a focus and to be with other teenagers with a common bond.”

Daisy’s mum Sarah is full of praise for the initiative. “It’s built her confidence, it’s given her a special space to go and do something for herself and it’s teaching her cookery skills that my dear mum, who was a cookery teacher, would have been proud of. How wonderful that a journey, which started with such sadness, should continue with something so positive.”

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