We have cooked over 1000 meals for vulnerable people in the community

July 8, 2020
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Anna had just started Kinship Carers Cooking Club to help local families when lockdown came into force. Unsure how to continue helping the community, she teamed up with Nunhead Knocks and has been working with a team to serve up hundreds of meals to carers and vulnerable people in the area.

Kinship carers

At the end of last year I started Kinship Carers Cooking Club, which was aimed at supporting kinship carers and the children they look after. These are the people who come forward to look after a child who is at risk of going into long-term foster care, or being adopted outside the family. Lots of grandmothers, aunts and uncles, as well as family friends and godparents. 

There is not a lot of awareness of this issue, but there are officially at least 300,000 kinship carers across the UK – probably a lot more to be honest – and there are loads in Southwark. They face a lot of challenges and have very little support. 

I wanted to create a service in the community for them, so I started this group. Prior to lockdown we were getting together every week on a Thursday and cooking a meal from scratch all together with children and carers.

I have a catering company, Accidentally Healthy, and that's how I founded the group because I reinvest the majority of the profits from that into the community. We had also been supporting some of the carers to get a food safety qualification so they could get back into employment or work with Accidentally Healthy on catering jobs. 

A chance to collaborate

However, in mid-March I decided to shut it down just before full lockdown came into force. I was gutted because I had just got started and it was going really well, and I wanted to keep supporting these families because I knew it would be particularly hard on them.

After initially working with the Salvation Army I reached out to Nunhead Knocks, initially just to volunteer to be honest, but then we saw a chance to collaborate. I had all the carers and their details but I didn't have the capacity to cook and deliver food to all those people. They had all the volunteers and access to big community kitchens but they weren't sure how to access all the people who needed the service. So it has worked out really nicely.

We cook about 55 every week for carers and their children, and about 100 a week including vulnerable people through the entire Nunhead Knocks community. We have done over 1000 meals altogether. It has been great, and I have had some really great feedback from carers who have said this has really helped. 

Anna’s recipe for a“hidden veg pasta bake”

Ingredients for 4 to 6 people:

2 courgettes

2 carrots

400g punnet of mushrooms (or you can use tinned)

2 sticks of celery

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato concentrate

Fresh or dried herbs, preferably basil or rosemary, but thyme or oregano or mixed dried herbs also work

200g grated cheddar

100g other cheese of your choice; try to go for a creamier, softer cheese like smoked scamorza or mozzarella, or even cream cheese

1kg short pasta, e.g. penne, conchiglie or fusilli

Olive oil


  • In a deep pot, gently fry the chopped onion and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until the onions start to become translucent. 
  • Add your chopped veg, stir in and gently fry for a few minutes. 
  • Once the vegetables have started to go a bit soft, add your tinned tomatoes, stir and season with salt, herbs and add the tomato concentrate. Cover with a lid and let simmer for an hour or so on a low heat to really develop all the flavours. 
  • In the meantime, bring a big pot of water to the boil and add one big tablespoon of sea salt. Boil your pasta for about half the time that it says on the packet, then drain just before the sauce is ready. Make sure you don't drain the pasta too early or you'll end up with a big ball of gloop!
  • Pre-heat the oven at 180C.
  • Once the sauce is ready, mix it into the pasta and transfer to a large oven tray. Stir in the softer cheese and cover with the gated cheddar cheese. 
  • Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble.

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