Local charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke has launched a new recipe book designed to teach residents of homeless hostels how they can incorporate more fruit and vegetables into their diet. The recipes have been developed along with residents and the child support worker of homelessness charity Depaul’s Mater Dei hostel for families in North Belfast and will be used as part of the NICHS’s Health and Homeless Service.
In a recent health study 43% of people who are homeless cited poor diet and nutrition as a major concern for them. Poor diet is linked to high blood pressure and stroke risks. The overall aim of NICHS Health and Homeless Service is to raise awareness of healthy living, to reduce cardiovascular and respiratory risk and illness amongst homeless people.
Deirdre Canavan, Depaul Senior Services Manager, welcomed the initiative, “Mater Dei is a family hostel with self-contained apartments where parents cook for their children. Even though parents may know, broadly speaking, which foods are healthy, sometimes they are not sure how to incorporate these healthy foods into meals. The recipes that have been developed by NICHS and us here in Depaul family services teach parents how to do this so that they can offer healthy options to their children.”
Fidelma Carter, Director of Public Health for the charity, explained, “People who are homeless do not always cook healthy, nutritious meals. They may believe they cannot afford healthy food. They may come from a background where they did not learn to cook as a child. or they may find it difficult to prioritise their health when they have other worries on their minds. This recipe book is part of the cooking and nutrition services we offer within hostels to address these problems. These recipes are affordable, easy to prepare, nutritionally balance and, above all, tasty.”
In 2017/18, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke took its Health and Homeless Service to 1058 people in 38 hostels and 6 outreach settings. To raise awareness of this service amongst other hostel managers the charity recently held two open days at Simon hostels and invited managers and staff from other hostels and staff from the Belfast and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trusts to see what they can offer.
Jim Dennison, CE Simon Community NI, explained why the health of Simon’s residents is so important. “If you have no home, no matter how temporary the situation, your health can suffer. Therefore Simon Community NI is putting more time and effort into improving health, especially in the areas of – diet, cooking, exercise, dentist, keeping appointments and more challenging issues like addiction. A house is important but it will be no use to you if you are not fit and well to enjoy it. Working with a charity like NICHS is very important to us as health is their area of expertise. They work alongside us with residents and hostel support staff to help provide a more holistic approach to improving health.”
You can download the recipe book here.
For more information, please contact Gillian Parker on 028 9032 0184 or firstname.lastname@example.org