Yallaa Kitchen Cookery and Culture Programme comes to Portstewart

Yallaa Kitchen Cookery and Culture Programme comes to Portstewart

Radius Housing and Yallaa NI have helped local people find out more about ‘cookery and culture’ in a special programme delivered in Portstewart. ‘Yallaa Kitchen’ saw ten eager participants learn how to cook and sample delicious Arabian Cuisine. The programme concluded with a special Arabian Pop-up Cultural Café to Portstewart Baptist Church on Friday 5th November.

Having started working together during Good Relations Week, Radius and Yallaa NI came together to organise these special workshops which, alongside the cooking, allowed participants to find out about the origin of the recipes and their cultural significance.

Yallaa, which means “let’s do” or “let’s go” in Arabic, is a social enterprise project which promotes learning and experiencing Arab culture in NI. They organise workshops and events which feature Arabic language and culture through experiences like cookery, cultural awareness sessions and their Arabian pop-up café. Their aim is to break down cultural barriers and build an understanding and appreciation of Arab civilisation through art, music, and food.

The programme is part of the Housing for All Cappagh Green Good Relations Plan, which is designed and delivered in partnership with Radius Housing’s Portstewart Advisory Group.  The Good Relations Plan seeks to build relationships and a sustainable community alongside the development of Shared Housing at Cappagh Green. Radius reached out to local schools, Portstewart Men’s Shed and Portstewart Community Association (PCA) to involve them in the programme.

Speaking as the workshops were completed, Rym Akhonzada, director of Yallaa, said “Yallaa was established with the vision of facilitating the promotion of Arab culture, intercultural engagement and social inclusion of Arabs in Northern Ireland and we are excited to bring our latest project, Yallaa Kitchen, to Portstewart and to partner with Radius Housing in this important cultural community project. Yallaa Kitchen is an opportunity to bring communities together through food while exploring what we have in common.”

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes,  who took part in the first cookery class and visited the Arabian pop-up cafe, said: “These events are an example of ‘good relations’ in action, bringing people together and allowing us to learn from each other. Good Relations Week promotes a peaceful, shared society and this event is a wonderful way to experience the different cultures that exist within our Borough.”

Catherine Taylor from Be Safe Be Well Men’s Shed who participated in the cooker sessions, added “We are more enriched for this talk and it was great to learn about the culture of our Syrian Men’s Shed members.”

Speaking from the Pop Up Cultural Cafe, Lisa Mooney, Communities Officer for Radius Housing, said “We were excited to bring the Yallaa pop up Cultural café to Portstewart. It is a truly unique and immersive experience providing attendees with a fun and engaging insight into Arab culture through food, music, dance, and art. It was particularly exciting to have primary school children from local schools in Portstewart popping into the cafe, as well as the wider community including our tenants at Cappagh Green and had 40 participants taking part.

“The programme has allowed an opportunity for the whole Portstewart community to come together to develop an understanding and appreciation of Arab Culture. Northern Ireland is home to many diverse communities with rich cultural identities and opportunities like these for connection and cultural exchange are so important.”

This event is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme, The Programme has its origins the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. The Department for Communities has invested £6,535,399 in the Cappagh Green Shared Housing development and associated five-year Good Relations Plan.

Radius has shared housing developments across Northern Ireland. The Cappagh Green Good Relations Plan includes ‘Bridging’ events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Health & Wellbeing, Education & Training.

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