On Thursday 8th November Gary and I were invited to attend a session of the Men’s Pie Club in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The Men’s Pie Club is an initiative run by Food Nation (foodnation.org), and is recognised as one of the 12 Social Innovators around the world which are primarily funded by the Movember Foundation. Men’s Pie Club brings together men who are at risk of, or already tackling issues around social isolation, loneliness and potentially, poor mental health. Each week the guys who attend the cookery school sessions come together, cook pies and then either sit and eat them or take them home for family members. But most importantly, while they are making the pies, they have a good chat.
Having been invited to attend one of the Men’s Pie Club sessions we arrived on time at The Riverside Community Health Project building in Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne and were met by Colin Mallen, (Food Nation Project Co-ordinator for the Men’s Pie Club). Colin supported by Martin Hudspith (Food Nation Cookery School Manager) and Colin B. introduced us to the guys in attendance. Laid out on the table were the ingredients to make the chosen pie of the day, Curried Pork. We were of course invited to participate and quickly appointed Gary as chef from the BPA and he got stuck in.
The guys made the pies from scratch, starting with the pastry and while that was cooling in fridge moved on to make the filling. Once the filling was ready, the pastry was rolled, cut and inserted into the pie making machines. The filling was then added and the lid applied prior to the pies being cooked. During the whole process everybody was mingling and chatting away and we were made to feel really welcome. Some of the men shared their stories with us and it was clear from what they said that they valued this weekly get together. I also noted a little bit of competition creeping in, especially with chef Gary, as all who were cooking wanted their pies to look great, which of course they all did.
Once the pies were cooked and those who were taking them home had put them into the special Men’s Pie Club containers we were joined by Karbon Homes who presented a cheque for £800 to support the funding of the Men’s Pie Club. What a fantastic donation and well done to all those from Karbon Homes who had helped to raise the money.
All in all we had a great day and we would personally like to thank Stuart, Colin, Terry, Robert, George, Colin M, Martin and Colin B for letting us join them and experience first-hand what the Men’s Pie Club is about and what it is doing to help bring the community together supporting those who need that little extra help to overcome difficulties. It was great to get involved and to have the opportunity to speak to all the guys and get their views on what the Men’s Pie Club has done for them personally. Everyone we talked to was full of praise and had nothing but positive comments to say on the day.
On the day after our visit a number of us met to review some locally sourced pies, enjoy a few beers and “Chef Gary” presented to the group the Men’s Pie Club pie. It got a good thumbs up from the British Pie Association members in attendance.
The Men’s Pie Club have achieved a great deal in a short period of time and so far engaged with over 50 men who were at risk of social isolation. The story so far is:
At the last count the men who attend Men’s Pie Club have made and eaten over 500 pies!
So in closing the British Pie Association would like to thank the Food Nation and the Men’s Pie Club for inviting us to one of their weekly cooking school classes, we truly believe that what you are doing is not only inspirational and beneficial to those who attend.
Please do take a look a few moments to take a look at the great work that Food Nation delivering across the community in Community Centres and Schools with courses and classes for food club groups, families, teens, carers etc it really is quite remarkable. And of course with regard to our particular engagement using pies to bring together men is great idea.
Let’s face it, who doesn’t like pies.
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