Levenshulme Youth Project was established in 2011 to provide activities for young people in South Manchester. They have won awards for their youth and play provisions for people aged 8-18.

Groundwork Greater Manchester began working with their young women’s group in Spring 2022, as part of the Climate Leadership and Coordination project. This project saw the young people design and deliver their own social action project, building two raised beds in the community park and planting them up with herbs, donated by the RHS.

After completing this project, the young people were keen to continue working with us and learning about climate and social action. They were interested in food and cooking, so we began a 4 week experiment with sustainable, healthy food. They also completed an AQA in Food Hygiene, led by Groundwork.

The first cooking session was led by Ngwafu Tansie, a community chef specialising in vegan West-African food. Ngwafu asked the youth group to choose between several plant based dishes, and the group voted for jollof rice.

Ngwafu spoke to the group about the history and culture behind the dish, and talked them through the process. They then worked as a team to bring the dish together, learning new cooking skills along the way. Ngwafu explained that while the dish traditionally contains meat, it’s incredibly easy to make vegan, and therefore has minimal impact on the planet.

At the beginning of the project, some of the group were sceptical about meat-free cooking, but this experience helped change their minds!

The group were also really keen to try baking, but didn’t believe they could make cakes without dairy or eggs. The team discussed substitutions like oil for eggs, margarine for butter and oat milk for dairy milk, and compared the carbon footprints, showing plant-based was more sustainable.