June 2022 – The Sunshine Kitchen
The Sunshine Kitchen
The Sunshine Kitchen (operating name of SUNSHINE CLUB, est 2018) is a kitchen project for young adults with additional support needs. Based in Fife, they rent kitchen premises where their team develops and prepares food products, (with an emphasis on using local produce) which they sell at local farmers’ markets, etc. They also provide a catering service and supply food to a local café on a regular basis.
The team, at the present time, consists of eighteen young adults between the ages of 18 – 30 who present with a range of lifelong neurological conditions including autism, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome, etc. The project also runs a peer mentoring programme which provides further places to several young people working in a supporting role under the guidance of staff.
The majority of all of these young people have transitioned from full-time education and, following this, many found that they were unable to find work or meaningful activity. There is currently a waiting list for the service.
In February 2021, The Essentia Foundation awarded the organisation a grant of £2,800.00. Project funding would mark a relaunch of activities following some 15 months of closure. In July 2020, The Sunshine Kitchen moved into a new kitchen facility which was much larger than the previous, allowing for better social distancing and safer overall working practices. This necessitated the purchase of some new pieces of kitchen equipment, along with the necessary masks and sundry items needed to keep everyone safe such as hand sanitizer, thermometers and more. The charity hoped that the project would help young people and the wider community to recover from the effects of lock down and inactivity.
The project commenced in April 2021. To kick start a return to regular activities, The Sunshine Kitchen quickly purchased large storage bins for each person’s personal belongings to keep things separate and safe, and some new uniform items. For their market stalls, the club invested in some Perspex screens, chosen carefully so they did not appear off-putting to customers, and new banners to separate off the sides of the stalls. This helped to increase the visibility of the charity in the local community.
Throughout the project period, The Sunshine Kitchen continued to attract new customers and supporters, with previously unknown catering clients coming forward to work with them, and local groups doing fundraising on their behalf. As for the young people on the project, they have expressed relief at being able to return to an in-person setting. Saturday cooking sessions have resumed, and the group has seen an increase in membership which is highly positive. These sessions help to provide structure to a young person’s week, particularly for those with ASN who enjoy the routine of attending.
“The Essentia Foundation has provided invaluable support to our organisation at a time when we were facing the daunting task of preparing to reopen following our COVID 19 closure. Thank you for helping us to survive!”The Sunshine Kitchen Staff
As of 2022, The Sunshine Kitchen is bigger than ever. In March 2022, the organisation secured funding from the Scottish Government’s Mental Health & Well being Fund, which is administered by Fife Voluntary Action (FVA), which will enable them to employ new staff members to run another fully supported kitchen session during the week.
This Summer, the organisation is also looking forward to launching a brand-new gardening project which will boost the ingredients on offer in the kitchen and educate young people on the importance of fresh produce and good nutrition.