Organisation Unlimited is the brainchild of event organiser, PA and all-round lifestyle management expert Ella Pickard. Ella has always wanted to give something back, in particular to share her confident and proactive approach to help people local people who face barriers to securing meaningful employment. Inspired by an event organised by local social enterprise Aspire, Ella is embarking on a project to boost the confidence and skills of ex-offenders.

Ella pledges to work with Aspire to develop an eight-week cookery course for ex-offenders taking part in their ‘Through the Gate’ programme. On leaving prison, many of Aspire’s trainees don’t know how to cook for themselves – and staff at the social enterprise say that developing this skill is a huge confidence-builder that helps them establish a new life for themselves away from crime. Up to ten people will be offered the chance to take part in each course, and taught simple, cost-effective cooking techniques such as how to feed yourself for a week with a whole chicken. As well as practical skills, the course will aim to develop new bonds between participants, with the support of Aspire’s staff. Each course will culminate in a communal supper cooked by participants for their guests, which could be sponsored by another Reciprocate member – and participants will receive a cooking starter kit to take away, with cupboard essentials and basic equipment. 

The course was a great success, attended by people who had never cooked before and a few who were looking for confidence to extend their repertoire of dishes. It ended with a lunch with the High Sheriff as guest of honour.  Co-op kindly donated much of the food for the course and joined us at the lunch.  We then went on to with the students, cooking a Christmas lunch for Aspire's Place at the Table event which was held at Rose Hill Community Centre for 150 people who would not ordinarily get to enjoy a Christmas lunch through being homeless, elderly and alone or similar reasons.