Ready, Steady, Cook!

Women from 17 different communities are being brought together by their love of cooking.

The Cardiff Community Cooking Competition launched last year and was created by South Wales Police in partnership with the Riverside-based charity Women Connect First.

In a bid to break down barriers between the organisations, women from the charity are welcomed into Cardiff Central Police Station to cook a two-course meal for a panel of judges.

The competition – which this year has a tagline of ‘share a cultural dish’ – consists of 10 weekly heats, 3 semi-finals and a grand final. Countries represented this year include Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan.

Organiser and South Wales Police’s Citizens in Policing Inspector Gareth Evans sees the competition as a beneficial thing for everyone involved.

He said: “Last year we ran the competition in a professional kitchen, so having the facilities this year and having 30 ladies of the community come into a police station for a fun event, to walk away with a positive image of the police will only benefit the community. Barriers are lowered and suddenly they’ve seen a police station as not a myth or a perception that it’s a bad place.”

Women Connect First works with Black Minority Ethnic (BME) women that have moved to the Cardiff area, giving them advice and helping them learn skills to improve their lives and employability.

There is no financial profit [from the competition] but the human profit is big.
— Amal Beyrouty, Women Connect First

Project Manager Amal Beyrouty said: “It’s the confidence for them – confidence to approach the police if there is an incident. They are scared, they do not know how to go to the police station. If they must go what they do. I wanted to overcome this.

“There is no financial profit [from the competition] but the human profit is big because we really invest in people, what they’ve got and what they want to be.”

Karen Sanders was cooking alongside the women as part of the competition and has been a PSCO for the past 11 years.

She said: “It’s all about reassurance, building up trust, being seen, being visible and the ladies getting to know us. It’s good community engagement, and that’s what neighbourhood policing is all about.”

The overall winner of the competition will win a trophy, and the top three competitors will win a selection of kitchen gadgets.