(Don’t) Play With Your Food!

Beth Hooper

This kit is more than just a kitchen. It has been designed specifically for the users of Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers (SDCAS) at The Parish Church of St Mary Newington. The contents of this kit provide an opportunity for people to share their cultures, make friends, create without rules and find some joy though the medium of food.

Through my research into the experiences of Asylum seekers and the process that people must go to to achieve refugee status in the UK, I discovered that one of the biggest problems for people and their mental wellbeing is the loss of control that they have over daily decisions including the simplest things such as deciding what to cook. Often the accomodation provided is crowded and doesn’t have cooking facilities. Charities such as SDCAS are vital for people to access practical help with the process of applying for refugee status, learning English, understanding their rights and applying for financial support. In addition to this it is an important social support network and the meals that SDCAS provide at two other centres are always very popular.

St Mary Newington Church doesn’t have any kitchen facilities since there was an arson attack on the church hall. This portable kitchen is designed to be set up in the main church and packed down again. It can be stored in one of the church’s side rooms when not in use where it doubles up as seating booths. When packed up it can be transported on wheels and fits comfortably into a Luton van for transportation to other sites. The flexibility of the design means it can be reconfigured in many different ways, allowing it to be used in a market or at an event providing scope for anyone who has achieved refugee status (and therefore legally allowed to work) to use it to begin a business. The parts included are also designed to be easily acessible should anyone want to expand on the kit in the future or if any parts need replacing. Parts are either standard off the shelf elements or can be easily made from a digital file. This means the scope of this pr oject is completely unlimited and control of how it is used lies with the users.