2. Theoretical Part

2.1 Philosophy

2.1.1 Context to HEALTHNIC

In the current social, economic and political times across Europe, there are many social-economic and welfare changes that have the greatest (negative) impact on the most vulnerable in the community – whether long term unemployed, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees. These groups often experience the greatest level of disadvantage, lack of mobility, reliance on social welfare and low levels of well-being. 2 It is well documented that levels of poor health are often higher in poor and disadvantaged communities, which is exacerbated by social isolation and exclusion. Hence, without addressing these issues, integration can be hindered. 3 This project looks beyond labels, acknowledging the differences and similarities in people, or the things that disadvantage them. Instead, it recognizes people’s skills, their resilience and their knowledge in order to build better relationships and stronger communities. It is about taking the best of what local people and newcomers bring to the table, using the medium and social interaction of cooking, sharing and eating well, to create something new to help us all in the future.

Specifically, this will be achieved through the practical and educational HEALTHNIC Workshop series where participants have the opportunity to: Learn about nutrition, healthy eating, food preparation, budgeting and cooking Acquire basic skills (language; ICT; communication skills) Create digital stories Gain cultural awareness and understanding to foster inclusion and integration.

[2] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/573908/EPRS_BRI(2016)573908_EN.pdf
[3] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Europe_2020_ indicators_- poverty_and_social_exclusion

2.1.2 Why the HEALTHNIC Process?

Food is something we all need, for sustaining life but also for the living of life. It can be a source of pleasure or a memory from our past and often is a leap into the unknown as we try things for the first time. It is also a way to share experiences and skills, creating healthy nutritious meals, cooking and eating together. The practical act of sharing a meal is something that is often taken for granted but is often missing in the lives of many people. Preparing a meal for one can be a joyless task and so while this project is about good food, its function is also to bring mixed groups of people together to learn and share food experiences. It is hoped that through this project will participants will be inspired to carry on preparing, cooking and enjoying  good food beyond the project’s lifespan

The Guide is a resource to assist the development of the workshop series, and will suggest different ways to run and organize activities with multicultural groups that involves:

• Learning about affordable, tasty and nutritious meals;

• Raising awareness and understanding about the use of local and seasonal produce;

• Sharing food culture and nutrition;

• Learning about alternative ingredients;

• Creating and sharing digital stories and knowledge.

Ultimately, food is our vehicle for making us all feel happier, living together in a single community and it is our tool for integration. From the outset, the people who become engaged will be from different parts of the globe, with different backgrounds, cultures and expectations. The project will provide activities and resource suggestions to bring everyone together, allowing each to understand and appreciate the other.

2.2 Introduction to the HEALTHNIC Thematics

2.2.1 Participatory Learning – ‘Learning by doing’

One of the most inclusive ways of learning is to undertake practical tasks together. This can be used in a variety of settings, allows a high level of interaction, can overcome language and cultural barriers and is usually very enjoyable.

It usually works best in small group settings, typically 10-15, and in reasonably well controlled spaces such as a training kitchen or classroom, as appropriate.

It is well documented and understood that everyone has a different learning style in order to comprehend, process and retain information. By adopting the participatory learning approach, it is felt that this will be the most inclusive method for working with participants of different cultures, language ability and backgrounds. By engaging learners in this approach, it also enables them to draw on personal experiences in addition to learning through the other participants and the workshop facilitator. Facilitation entails the management of the group and “exercise of power” – at one end of the spectrum the Facilitator may initiate a process, stand back and let the group (process) take its course, or at the other end, to manage the process so that it ‘remains on track’ towards a predetermined goal.

Facilitation behaviours and relationships can range from
• Open-ended to goal-oriented
• Emerging to converging
• Empowering group autonomy using a mixture of facilitation and traditional teaching methods.

A combination of facilitation and formal teaching methods points to the pervasive reality that, to varying degrees, facilitators set agendas, steer processes, frame analysis, and summarize conclusions. In this way, the method creates bonds between learners and so increases confidence to participate, share knowledge and increase learning. Where language is an issue to understanding, it is important to embed and contextualize language learning within the workshops through building vocabulary lists, pictorial and written glossaries, peer support and/or interpreter assistance In particular, glossaries will be developed during the workshops by each participant and will be guided by tutors and staff. Within the guide and toolkit there will also be resources which are simple in design or format to enable participants with language difficulties to understand the essence and meaning of practical tasks, for example a “storyboard” format can be used to make a basic recipe using the actual food ingredients and a simple written description of the preparation. The workshop series will involve a range of learning approaches and styles however, the active and practical participation ethos is crucial in breaking down barriers to social inclusion and enhancing skills

2.2.2 Group building activities

This paper represents both the presentation of our own experience in running a Healthnic workshop and a Guide to pass our experience to all who will replicate it, in conformity with the principles of participatory learning and process work. A Healthnic workshop will involve people coming together and working in groups. Whether learning new skills or sharing individual knowledge, the group dynamics will develop naturally and over time, but this is predicated on supporting the confidence of the participants, their language and communications skills, as appropriate. Much of the work will involve discussing, preparing, cooking and sharing food, which provides each participant with an equal opportunity to share their opinions and thinking with their peers and the facilitators. The role of the workshop facilitators is therefore crucial in steering the group dynamics and building trust throughout the workshop series. 14 Facilitators should also be mindful of the need to work with colleagues in designing project recruitment and promotion so that, at the outset, people interested in participating have a clear idea of what will be involved during the project workshops, this can be reiterated during the start-up workshop session. There are detailed examples and resource suggestions throughout the Guide. Below is one example: Baking bread is a great starting point for group activities (if you don’t have access to an oven, a bread making machine can be used).

• Participants discuss types of bread from their own country/place of origin;

• Participants learn the related language to understand the ingredients; the preparation methods and the baking/cooking of the bread.

• Participants discuss the cost of making bread vs buying bread and the value of bread in their home countries.

• How can the basic bread recipe be varied – to make it more traditional/healthy?

• How much does “successful” breadmaking vary between one group and another?

• Is there a recipe which includes everyone’s ideas that works?

2.2.3 Cultural exchange activities

Practical food discussion, preparation and cooking forms the basis to the workshops and opportunities to discuss and share knowledge of food culture and tradition. By working in small groups “bonds” will develop amongst participants, which help in building knowledge, awareness of each others’ culture and understanding. For example:

• Explore different cultures’ cuisine, cooking methods and eating habits
• Table manners – differences between countries and within countries (e.g. generational differences)
• Why do some people eat with cutlery tools rather than their hands or bread?
• What are the digestive benefits of eating with your fingers? • Does everyone in the group traditionally eat at breakfast time, lunch time and dinner time?
• How healthy is your national diet? Is there an obesity problem in your home country?
• Is there a connection between food and religion in your home country?

Participants will have numerous opportunities in the workshop series to interact in group bonding and learning activities and many resources are provided in the delivery of the project both in the Guide and Toolkit.

Participants should not be afraid to ask questions of each other, however, boundaries should be established in the initial sessions to ensure that enquiry or ignorance does not cause offence. By building trust and establishing ground rules it will create an environment where participants and facilitators all learn from each other and minimise misunderstandings

We are always learning and it is absolutely essential for participants to be empowered to share their knowledge and skills, so let the participants teach too!

Comparing and contrasting cultural differences and similarities in foods and food traditions will encourage everyone to participate. Discussion on the ingredients and cooking methods will be shared; hence cross cultural dialogue and 15 learning become embedded within the whole process.

• What do people like about each other’s food?
• How much does it cost to buy and make?
• Can it be made in a different way to make it better, cheaper, healthier?
• How important is the sharing of food in the participants’ home countries?
• These questions and more can to be answered in the workshop series.

2.2.4 Social inclusion

Bringing different groups of people together from local unemployed, immigrant or refugee communities within the HEALTHNIC project, provides new opportunities for increasing people’s cultural knowledge, awareness and understanding of each other, and therefore supports the ethos of social inclusion and a route to social and economic integration.

In the current economic and political climate across the EU and the world, the impact of negative, biased media and increasing political intolerance of disadvantaged communities combined with nationalistic tendencies and ethnocentrism can severely impact on people’s cultural awareness, knowledge and understanding.

Challenging stereotypes, learning and sharing with each other provides a platform to change “hearts and minds” irrespective of employment status, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or belief.

In this respect, the recruitment and selection of all participants to the project must be done with enough information that everyone knows what to expect – e.g. there will be mixed groups of participants; outline the range of learning opportunities; cultural awareness and understanding; sharing food culture and traditions.

Participants can be given an initial task or questionnaire about why they want to get involved in the project, what they expect from the workshops and what they hope to learn. At the end of the workshop facilitators can assess how their expectations have been met and what they have learned about social inclusion and cultural exchange.

2.2.5 Introduction to Nutrional Education

Health is defined in the World Health Organisation constitution of 1948 as “a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (https://www.wcpt.org/node/47898)

Our daily food choices have a significantimpact on our physical and mental health, and overall well-being.

Good and healthy food can be viewed as real food that is unrefined and unprocessed as nature intended. Good nutrition provides the body with all the vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it requires to work its best. Variety, balance and moderation are essential to ensure we get the full range of nutrients for good health. Food acts as a foundation medicine and affects all systems of the body. When an active lifestyle with sufficient exercise and a positive attitude are combined with a well-balanced, varied and disciplined diet, there is no limit to good health.

The exact composition of a balanced healthy diet will vary according to each individual’s needs, and is affected by age, gender, lifestyle, physical and emotional health, physical 16 activity, cultural environment, dietary customs and locally available foods. However, the basic principles of what constitutes a healthy diet remain the same.

Vegetables, fruit, pulses (legumes), whole grains, nuts and seeds are important sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, plant protein, complex carbohydrates, essential fats and antioxidants. While we know that good nutrition and physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, the benefits of good nutrition can also help:

• Improve mental health and wellbeing;
• Prevent risk of obesity;
• Increase energy level;
• Improve ability to prevent illness;
• Improve ability to recover from injury and illness;
• Lower high cholesterol;
• Reduce high blood pressure;
• Reduce risk of some diseases including diabetes, heart, disease, stroke, some cancers, and osteoporosis.

2.2.6 Home economics

Planning and preparing meals in advance is crucial to managing and budgeting food, and for cooking economically on a low income. Choosing good quality nutritious products such as wholegrains, lentils and beans, that can be purchased in larger quantities with the cost shared between a number of families. These nutritious foods are a less expensive way to bulk up on good filling meals and by adding herbs and spices to increase nutrition and create huge variety in tasty wholesome satisfying meals.

-Timing is also important when purchasing food. Buying fresh local produce in season when it is in abundance, more flavourful, more nutritious, no chemical preservatives, ready for consumption and can be prepared and frozen for usage later.
-Consider how to package foods into amounts that can be used in one meal to further avoid wastage.
-Go to farmers’ markets towards the end of the market day for extra offers, and wonderful tips on how to prepare and store their food to last as long as possible.
-Look out for special offers and sales, and plan and prepare meals around these offers and with what you have in stock to further minimise wastage. -Regularly check and keep the refrigerator contents organised, by dating and labeling leftover foods wastage will be minimised.
-New dishes can be recreated with these leftovers into an entirely new delicious meal.
-Broaden knowledge and increase variety by sourcing different produce in different types of shops particularly ethnic shops, where staff will be happy to give advice.
-Choose less expensive cuts of meat that are often more nutritious and tasty with good preparation and cooking.

Stock up on essential cupboard staples that can be safely stored and plan meals accordingly.

2.3 Introduction to Digital Storytelling Methods and praxis

Why do we tell stories? We use them to entertain, to persuade and to explain and understand the world. Stories are common to all human cultures and it forms the means by which we structure, share, and make sense of our common experiences.

2.3.1 Definition

Digital storytelling refers “to the process by which diverse people share their life story and creative imaginings with others, using digital tools, over the Internet and other electronic distribution systems” (http://institute-of-progressive-education-and-learning.org/elearning-i/digital-storytelling/).

Digital storytelling helps participants to focus on themselves and their stories, put their stories into words, dramatise them and relate them to others with the help of photos or other visual tools. In this process storytellers elaborate and relate their own personal stories, illustrating them with personal photos, objects, drawings, etc. The result will be a roughly two-minute short film narrated by the storyteller and based on personal pictures.The digital storytelling method is very diverse by nature, thereforeit can be used to document, educate, or simply entertain and can be applied in every field, for different reasons or purposes.

In the HEALTHNIC project, digital storytelling helps the participants to focus on themselves and their stories, put them into words, dramatise them and relate them to others with the help of photos or other visual tools in the context of food.

In the process, participants elaborate and relate their own personal stories, illustrating them with personal photos etc. The result is a two/three minute short film, narrated by the storyteller and based on personal pictures.

2.3.2 Why should we use the Digital Storytelling Method in this project?

In the final stages of the HEALTHNIC workshops digital storytelling will be used to give participants the opportunity to express their artistic talents in another field using different means, reflect on what they have learned through the workshops series and gain ICT skills so that they can record their experiences.

Telling their stories in this manner helps the participants to develop a greater sense of belonging and to express their unique identity.

Some organisations participating in this project have previously used various digital storytelling methods (“IDigStories” project and “Tell Your Story”), with great results. The facilitators can benefit from this prior knowledge and internal project support in applying it in the context of food in the HEALTHNIC project. For this reason, it is suggested to refer to the more comprehensive and specific methodological guide on digital storytelling which is available on free download at: http://idigstories.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Digital_Storytelling_in_Practice.pdf

2.4 Active citizenship

Feeling part of a community is a vital need, however, in moderndays this identity is constantly changing and it is continuously multidimensional. People are invited to participate in different social networks, according to their social, professional, family, cultural and political actions. At the same time the lack of being related to others and being an active part of a social group, is a common risk.

The “Healthnic Workshop” process is aiming to understand this social risk and to empower through the creation of identities of social trust and solidarity instead of identities of conflict and also to provide an alternative answer to the social phenomena of polarisation, such as the increase of nationalism in Europe.

Active citizenship education in that framework could fill some gaps of the identity crisis and prevent the social exclusion risk that social groups, such as refugees and unemployed people may face.

For “Healthnic Workshop”, active citizenship means sharing and learning together, understanding the common needs, and means people getting involved in their local communities. It is a combination of factors and actions that build and maintain social relations among different social groups, it is an understanding that we are all mutually dependent.

The process’s philosophy and structural goals focus on revealing and fostering cultural heritages, giving visibility to social groups and equally important giving them the social space to share their cultural capital and knowledge gained in the workshop.

An essential part of the Healthnic Process is the Digital Story Telling part. The Digital Stories that are going to be created during the Healthnic workshops are going to be shared in the digital community and in the local communities of the participants, as educational tools for schools, shared in local libraries, in non-formal educational associations and elsewhere. By transferring and communicating this knowledge to local societies, the participants of the workshops are going to have an active role in the community; they will become ambassadors and facilitators of a healthier, multicultural approach of life and social relationships, accordingly.

It is essential that the workshop providers encourage the participants to organise at the end of the workshops, open celebration days to share the outcomes of the workshops, to cook and to eat collectively, take advantage of any local festivals where the Digital Stories could be shared in public and to be actively involved in the local community many ways.


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