Category Archives: General Articles

Don’t stay together for our sake, say children

New polling has found that around eight out of ten children and young people with experience of parental separation or divorce would prefer their parents to split up if they are unhappy, rather than stay together.

The poll of young people aged 14-22 with experience of parental separation, which was carried out by ComRes on behalf of family law organisation Resolution, has revealed fresh insights from children about the levels of involvement and amount of information they would like during their parents’ divorce. The findings are released ahead of a Parliamentary launch of new advice for divorcing parents.

An overwhelming majority (82%) of the young people surveyed said that, despite their feelings at the time, they felt it was ultimately better that their parents divorced rather than stay together unhappily. Asked what advice they would give divorcing parents, one young person said, “Don’t stay together for a child’s sake, better to divorce than stay together for another few years and divorce on bad terms”; while another suggests children “will certainly be very upset at the time but will often realise, later on, that it was for the best.”

Key findings from the research shows that children and young people want greater involvement in decision-making during the divorce process:

  • 62% of children and young people polled disagreed with the statement that their parents made sure they were part of the decision-making process about their separation or divorce.
  • Half of young people (50%) indicate that they did not have any say as to which parent they would live with or where they would live (49%) following their parents’ separation or divorce. Importantly, 88% say it is important to make sure children do not feel like they have to choose between their parents
  • Around half (47%) say that they didn’t understand what was happening during their parents’ separation or divorce
  • Two in ten (19%) agree that they sometimes felt like the separation or divorce was their fault.
  • When asked what they’d most like to have changed about their parents’ divorce, 31% of young people said they would have liked  their parents not to be horrible about each other to them, and 30% said they would have liked their parents to understand what it felt like to be in the middle of the process.
  • Positively, Resolution’s research also showed that many parents are handling their separation admirably. 50% of young people agreed that their parents put their needs first during their separation or divorce.

Speaking about the new findings, Jo Edwards, chair of Resolution, said:

“This new information shows that, despite the common myth that it’s better to stay together “for the sake of the kids”, most children would sooner have their parents divorce rather than remain in an unhappy relationship.   

“Being exposed to conflict and uncertainty about the future are what’s most damaging for children, not the fact of divorce itself. This means it is essential that parents act responsibly, to shelter their children from adult disagreements and take appropriate action to communicate with their children throughout this process,and make them feel involved in key decisions, such as where they will live after the divorce.

“We should be supporting parents to choose an out of court divorce method, such as mediation or collaborative practice. This will help parents to maintain control over the divorce and ensure their children’s needs are, and remain, the central focus.”   

Relate counsellor, Denise Knowles said:

“Evidence suggests that it’s parental conflict which has the most damaging effect on children and we see this played out in the counselling room every day.

“Of course, children usually find their parents’ separation extremely upsetting but as this research demonstrates, eventually many come to terms with the situation and adjust to changes in family life.  There are plenty of steps that separating parents can take to ensure they reduce the negative impact on their children such as working to avoid constant arguing or speaking badly of the other parent in front of the kids.

“Parents can also involve their children by providing age appropriate and relevant information about the divorce or separation and what it means for them. Trying to understand children’s needs will make them feel secure and loved during this difficult time. Separating parents could also consider accessing support such as individual counselling, couples counselling, family counselling and mediation. ”

Parenting expert and author Sue Atkins said:

“Children want to feel involved and empowered with relevant information about their parents’ divorce and what it means for them. They also want to see their parents behaving responsibly, such as to not argue in front of them.

“That so many children report their relationships with family members remain unchanged after a divorce shows the value in parents seeking advice to support them to find positive solutions to their disputes”.  

“As the long distance parent, Dads must work hard to maintain their relationship with their child. They may feel angry that this task falls on their shoulders since they may not have initiated the divorce in the first place and it’s easy to feel like a victim and spend their time and energy blaming their ex. But I don’t advise that as it’s far better to focus on what you can do to stay involved and active in your child’s life. Being a long distance parent doesn’t mean that a dad has to automatically disappear from their child’s life. It just requires some creativity and cooperation to pull it off successfully.”

Parenting Charter
The survey results support the main advice Resolution shares in its Parenting Charter, which sets out what children should be able to expect from their parents during a divorce.

These include children’s rights to:

  • be at the centre of any decisions made about their lives
  • feel and be loved and cared for by both parents
  • know and have contact with both sides of their families, including any siblings who may not live with them, as long as they are safe
  • a childhood, including freedom from the pressures of adult concerns such as financial worries

At a special event with MPs and Peers in Parliament later this week, Resolution will be calling for the Government to share the Charter with all divorcing parents.  The event will also see the launch of an online advice guide at www.resolution.org.uk/divorceandparenting developed by Resolution to help divorcing parents manage their relationship with their children and with each other during separation.

Walking to School

Primary school children who do not walk to school are missing out on a range of social, physical and practical benefits that their parents’ and grandparents’ generations took for granted, says Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. Released to celebrate the start of International Walk to School Month, a YouGov poll commissioned by the charity asked three generations* what they enjoyed about walking to school.

It found that children aged 8 to 11 who normally walk to school enjoyed meeting their friends on the way and spending time with family the most, with 53 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.

The worrying news is that with just 46 per cent of primary-aged children now walking to school (National Travel Survey 2014), lots of children are missing out on this valuable time with loved ones. This figure is in vast contrast to the 70 per cent of people their parents’ age, who used to walk.

For these older generations who normally walked to school the poll revealed that meeting their friends on the way was also what they enjoyed the most (60 per cent adults aged 30-49, 63 per cent adults aged 50-75).

When it came to the benefits of walking to school all three generations recognised that it was good exercise and good for their health, but interestingly the largest number of those who recognised this as most important were the youngest generation, with a massive 83 per cent of children aged 8-11 putting it first compared with 67 per cent of adults aged 30-49 and 65 per cent of 50-75 year olds. Also high on the list was independence (36 per cent and 61 per cent respectively) and road awareness (51 per cent and 65 per cent respectively).

Emily Humphreys, Director of Policy and Communications, Living Streets said:

“It is clear that the simple act of walking to school brings a host of benefits, including spending quality time with parents, grandparents and friends. This free, sustainable and healthy activity also saves parents money and reduces car emissions, thereby protecting children further. What better way to start the day than with precious family time?”

With three quarters of children not doing enough physical activity** we need to prioritise the walk to school before the inactive children of today become the unhealthy adults of the future.

Recognising the wide-ranging benefits that walking to school brings, the Government has set a target for getting 55 per cent of children walking to school by 2025 but Living Streets is concerned that if funds are not committed, this target cannot be reached.

The benefits of walking to school haven’t changed but the number of children walking has. Without action to halt and reverse the decline, the number walking to school will inevitably continue to fall. While the government’s target is very welcome, it must dedicate the funds required to achieve this commitment. We must invest in our children and help them reap the lifelong physical, social, mental and practical benefits that walking brings.”

Comments from children about what they enjoy about walking to school:

“I feel independent”

“It’s good for me, I like walking with my mum”

“My mum can cuddle me”

“I like getting fresh air and exercise”

“I get to admire the view and see interesting stuff”

“It makes me feel more grown up”

* YouGov polled children aged 8-11 and adults aged 30-49 and 50-75.

** British Heart Foundation/Diabetes UK/Tesco 2015

New children’s film adaptation of Henry V

WillShake's Henry V © Short Form Film Company LtdNew children’s film adaptation of Henry V set to shake up how young people are introduced to Shakespeare 

Actor Tom Hiddleston lends his voice to film starring primary school children 

Making its world premiere in schools for Shakespeare Week

A brand new children’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V, starring a cast of 8 to 10 year-olds from Northumberland and featuring narration by actor, Tom Hiddleston, is to make its world premiere in primary schools throughout the UK during Shakespeare Week (16-22 March 2015).

Placing young audiences at its heart, WillShake’s Henry V, sees the great history play told by children for children for the very first time. Its producers are looking to shape a change in how young people are introduced to Shakespeare, sharing his works with a new generation in a way that will ignite imagination, grab attention and support a life long enjoyment of his stories.

More than one million children will be invited to take a front row seat and create their own ‘red carpet’ event for the world premiere on Tuesday 17th March, as part of a national Watchalong. Screened at 10:30am, teachers can log in to the Digital Theatre Plus website and unite their classes with thousands of others around the UK, tuning in to watch the first ever screening of this new take on the classic Shakespeare tale.

Children will also have the opportunity to join in a virtual post show Q&A with the film’s creators, Short Form Film Company, and comment in real time on Google and Twitter (#WillShakeWatchalong).

To watch the trailer go to www.digitaltheatreplus.com/news/coming-soon-willshakes-henry-v

The film’s Director Joe Talbot focuses on the characters and themes of the play, simplifies the plot, and presents a tale about growing up, becoming a man and becoming a King through live action, enhanced by beautiful animation.

In the 15-minute adaptation, the story is told by a young WillShake, a boy with a trunk of theatrical tricks who likes to tell stories. The role is played by 9-year-old Jonnie Kimmins, with Kian Graham, aged 8, in the title role. Children from Holy Trinity CE First School in Berwick, Northumberland, make up the rest of the cast, which was filmed on location at Bamburgh Castle and the surrounding area last January.

WillShake’s Henry V will be hosted by the world’s leading online HD performing arts resource, Digital Theatre Plus, where it will sit alongside acclaimed shows by the RSC and Shakespeare’s Globe. It will be screened as part of Shakespeare Week, the national celebration organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and is just one of a host of free Shakespeare Week activities and resources available to every primary school in the UK.

Tom Hiddleston said, “With WillShake, Joe Talbot and Emily Blacksell have achieved something wonderful. They have completely reimagined the possibilities for children and their first contact with Shakespeare. Their Henry V film is fresh, dynamic and so lovingly crafted that it’s impossible not to stand up for it. Bravo.”

Joe Talbot said, “We wanted to let children hear the language, feel the mood and see the story unfold in the most exciting and relevant way. The blend of Shakespeare, film and digital technology allows young people in every corner of the UK to connect with the tale.”

Emily Blacksell, WillShake Producer, said, “Our aim with WillShake is to present a ‘first taste’ of Shakespeare, that preserves the brilliance of the original plays but that also captivates a modern, young audience using the highest possible film and animation production techniques. In the 600th anniversary year of the Battle of Agincourt, it seems particularly timely to revisit Henry V, in a way that reflects our digital age.”

Jacqueline Green, Head of Learning and Participation at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, organiser of Shakespeare Week, added, “There is a quality of listening and engagement when young people watch children playing adult roles, and the magic of this is truly harnessed in WillShake’s Henry V. This is a truly innovative and groundbreaking approach, which we are delighted to be introducing to more than 6,000 schools taking part in Shakespeare Week.”

Fiona Lindsay, Creative Producer for Digital Theatre Plus, said, “This collaboration brings the bard bang up-to-date and unravels the creative process by giving children an insight into the world of filmmaking. We couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”

Willshake’s Henry V is the first in a new series of films being made by Short Form Film Company. It will be available to view for free exclusively at Digital Theatre Plus from Tuesday 17th March to celebrate Shakespeare Week, until Shakespeare’s birthday on the 26th April 2015.

A resource kit packed with behind the scenes footage will also be available, including interviews with the creative team and a competition for a class to win a filmmaking workshop in Stratford-upon-Avon. For details of how to enter, go to www.shakespeareweek.org.uk/topics/competitions

The WillShake Watchalong is free to all schools registered to take part in Shakespeare Week. To sign up for free go to www.shakespeareweek.org.uk

WillShake’s Henry V will be available to watch at 10:30am on Tuesday 17th March 2015 at www.digitaltheatreplus.com.

Find out all you need to know to join in the WillShake Watchalong with Digital Theatre Plus at www.shakespeareweek.org.uk/resources/willshake

Five fun ways to celebrate Shakespeare Week

Fire your family’s imagination: Five fun ways to celebrate Shakespeare Week

16 – 22 March 2015

@ShakespeareWeek / #ShakespeareWeek 

More than 1 million children across the UK are preparing to join a national celebration of the world’s greatest playwright, when Shakespeare Week lands in primary schools on Monday 16th March. But the fun needn’t stop in the classroom. TheShakespeare Birthplace Trust, organiser of the week, is planning all sorts of ways that families can join in, both at home and at cultural attractions nationwide. Here’s five of the best…

Shakespeare fun and games

Register as a family on the Shakespeare Week website (www.shakespeareweek.org.uk) and you can download free activity sheets and games to get to know Shakespeare at home. For younger children there’s design and make activities, while older children can try Tudor recipes and explore a map of Shakespeare’s England.

Swap a bedtime story

Swap a bedtime story for a Shakespeare’s play. Books recommended by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for young readers are ‘Tales of Shakespeare’ by Marcia Williams (Walker Books), ‘Lambs Tales from Shakespeare’ by Charles and Mary Lamb (Penguin Books) and ‘Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare’ (Usborne Publishing).

Plan a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon

Explore Shakespeare in the place where his story burns brightest; the place where the bard was born and lived at the height of his fame and fortune. Free family events taking place especially for Shakespeare Week include craft workshops in the gardens of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and a chance to take part in a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream alongside master puppeteers at Mary Arden’s Farm.

Go see BILL!

The cast of BBC’s Horrible Histories has reunited for a comedy film about the life of William (Bill) Shakespeare, a hopeless lute player who leaves behind his family and home to follow his dreams in London. Hitting cinemas on 27th March, the film will see murderous kings, spies, lost loves, and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth. Get a sneak preview here

and keep up with the latest news by following @Billthefilm or going to Facebook.com/Billthefilm

Visit a cultural attraction

Museums, galleries, theatres, libraries and heritage attractions across the UK are joining the Shakespeare Week celebrations by offering free cultural and creative events and experiences for families.

A taster:The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology (Oxford) will be hosting a ‘Cuffs, Ruffs and Quills’ trail with Shakespearian paper craft activities.

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum (Chichester) is inviting visitors to find out more about everyday life in Shakespeare’s England and take part in drama workshops to explore the plays.

Tatton Park’s (Cheshire) line-up of events will include a recital of music from Elizabethan England in the Tudor Old Hall and an ‘into the woods’ experience, with shelter building, deer stalking and archery activities.

The Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge) will be discovering the world of the Tudors with costume and prop making.

Compton Verney (Warwickshire) is holding drop-in workshops themed around the Tudor portraits in its art collection.

To find out more about what’s happening in your region, visit www.shakespeareweek.org.uk

About Shakespeare Week

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust launched Shakespeare Week in 2014 to bring his works, creative legacy and the nation’s cultural birthright, to life for everyone’s enjoyment and creative learning, starting with the nation’s next generation.  So far more than half a million primary school children have taken part. In 2015, this will increase to more than 1 million children, with over 5,000 schools having already signed up.

Daisy’s Story

Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust gives young people in recovery from cancer the chance to rebuild their confidence through sailing. They help hundreds of families like Daisy and the Skepelhorn’s each year.

We want to share the story of the Trust, reaching out to all of our supporters to make sure as many people as possible know how they can help young people in recovery from cancer.

If you would like to get involved simply share this video on social media or embed in your website to help us ensure young people in recovery from cancer all over the country get the chance to get out on the water and experience the fantastic work of the Trust.

Daisy’s Story – http://bit.ly/1vocwsr

Dyspraxia Symptoms

People who have dyspraxia often find the routine tasks of daily life such as driving, household chores, cooking and grooming difficult. They can also find coping at work is hard. People with dyspraxia usually have a combination of problems, including:

Gross motor co-ordination skills (large movements):

  • Poor balance. Difficulty in riding a bicycle, going up and down hills
  • Poor posture and fatigue. Difficulty in standing for a long time as a result of weak muscle tone. Floppy, unstable round the joints. Some people with dyspraxia may have flat feet
  • Poor integration of the two sides of the body. Difficulty with some sports involving jumping and cycling
  • Poor hand-eye co-ordination. Difficulty with team sports especially those which involve catching a ball and batting. Difficulties with driving a car
  • Lack of rhythm when dancing, doing aerobics
  • Clumsy gait and movement. Difficulty changing direction, stopping and starting actions
  • Exaggerated ‘accessory movements’ such as flapping arms when running
  • Tendency to fall, trip, bump into things and people

Fine motor co-ordination skills (small movements):

  • Lack of manual dexterity. Poor at two-handed tasks, causing problems with using cutlery, cleaning, cooking, ironing, craft work, playing musical instruments
  • Poor manipulative skills. Difficulty with typing, handwriting and drawing. May have a poor pen grip, press too hard when writing and have difficulty when writing along a line
  • Inadequate grasp. Difficulty using tools and domestic implements, locks and keys
  • Difficulty with dressing and grooming activities, such as putting on makeup, shaving, doing hair, fastening clothes and tying shoelaces

Poorly established hand dominance:

  • May use either hand for different tasks at different times

Speech and language:

  • May talk continuously and repeat themselves. Some people with dyspraxia have difficulty with organising the content and sequence of their language
  • May have unclear speech and be unable to pronounce some words
  • Speech may have uncontrolled pitch, volume and rate

Eye movements:

  • Tracking. Difficulty in following a moving object smoothly with eyes without moving head excessively. Tendency to lose the place while reading
  • Poor relocating. Cannot look quickly and effectively from one object to another (for example, looking from a TV to a magazine)

Perception (interpretation of the different senses):

  • Poor visual perception
  • Over-sensitive to light
  • Difficulty in distinguishing sounds from background noise. Tendency to be over-sensitive to noise
  • Over- or under-sensitive to touch. Can result in dislike of being touched and/or aversion to over-loose or tight clothing – tactile defensiveness
  • Over- or under-sensitive to smell and taste, temperature and pain
  • Lack of awareness of body position in space and spatial relationships. Can result in bumping into and tripping over things and people, dropping and spilling things
  • Little sense of time, speed, distance or weight. Leading to difficulties driving, cooking
  • Inadequate sense of direction. Difficulty distinguishing right from left means map reading skills are poor

Learning, thought and memory:

  • Difficulty in planning and organising thought
  • Poor memory, especially short-term memory. May forget and lose things
  • Unfocused and erratic. Can be messy and cluttered
  • Poor sequencing causes problems with maths, reading and spelling and writing reports at work
  • Accuracy problems. Difficulty with copying sounds, writing, movements, proofreading
  • Difficulty in following instructions, especially more than one at a time
  • Difficulty with concentration. May be easily distracted
  • May do only one thing at a time properly, though may try to do many things at once
  • Slow to finish a task. May daydream and wander about aimlessly

Emotion and behaviour:

  • Difficulty in listening to people, especially in large groups. Can be tactless, interrupt frequently. Problems with team work
  • Difficulty in picking up non-verbal signals or in judging tone or pitch of voice in themselves and or others. Tendency to take things literally. May listen but not understand
  • Slow to adapt to new or unpredictable situations. Sometimes avoids them altogether
  • Impulsive. Tendency to be easily frustrated, wanting immediate gratification
  • Tendency to be erratic ñ have ‘good and bad days’
  • Tendency to opt out of things that are too difficult

Emotions as a result of difficulties experienced:

  • Tend to get stressed, depressed and anxious easily
  • May have difficulty sleeping
  • Prone to low self-esteem, emotional outbursts, phobias, fears, obsessions, compulsions and addictive behaviour

Many of these characteristics are not unique to people with dyspraxia and not even the most severe case will have all the above characteristics. But adults with dyspraxia will tend to have more than their fair share of co-ordination and perceptual difficulties.

http://www.dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/

Got milk? Got eczema?

More and more people are cutting milk and other dairy products out of their diet for health reasons. With the National Eczema Week approaching (13-21 September), it’s time to look at the science and what a dairy-free diet can do for you.

Eczema is a long-term, chronic condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. It varies in severity and whilst some people are only mildly affected, severe symptoms can include cracked, sore, bleeding and inflamed skin. The number of people diagnosed with eczema has increased in recent years and currently, about one in five children and one in 12 adults in the UK have eczema1,2.

Cow’s milk allergy is a risk factor for many allergic conditions including asthma and eczema. Eczema can be caused by several environmental factors including dust mites, grasses and pollens, stress and certain foods. It usually starts in infancy and in about 10 per cent of cases it is triggered by foods including milk, eggs, citrus fruit, chocolate, peanuts and colourings3. The most common food triggers are cow’s milk and eggs, but many other foods including soya, wheat, fish and nuts can act as triggers4. When treating eczema, cow’s milk allergy should be considered first.

Babies with colic often have problems caused at least partially by casein or whey allergy (both whey and casein are components of milk). Cow’s milk or cow’s milk formula is often the first food babies are exposed to and apart from digestive problems can elicit an immune reaction. Obstetrician-Gynaecologist Dr Victor Khayat says: “One theory is that the body develops antibodies to the milk and thus creates an immune response that presents as eczema-like lesions, asthma symptoms and even more serious anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.”5

Eczema can also occur in people with high sensitivity to cow’s milk proteins or dairy intolerance. In any case of eczema, milk should be the first on the list of potential food triggers. In a recent study, milk allergy or sensitivity was the culprit for 56 per cent of the studied group6.

The only reliable treatment for cow’s milk allergy is to avoid all cow’s milk and dairy products including: milk, milk powder, milk drinks, cheese, butter, margarine, yogurt, cream and ice cream. Also products with hidden milk content should be avoided. Food labels that list any of the following ingredients also contain some cow’s milk or products in them: casein, caseinates, hydrolysed casein, skimmed milk, skimmed milk powder, milk solids, non-fat milk, whey, whey syrup sweetener, milk sugar solids. It might seem a daunting prospect having to read the ingredients labels but most supermarkets now produce ‘free-from’ lists of products and many supermarkets also have their own-label free-from range. There are even iPhone or Android phone apps available now to help you identify ingredients by scanning the product bar code. Dairy-free ice creams, spreads and yoghurts and dairy-free cheeses are just some examples. Calcium-enriched soya, rice, almond, coconut and oat milks can be used as alternatives to cow’s milk.

For information on how to be dairy-free, go to: www.whitelies.org.uk/dairyfree where you can download a practical guide (including suitable products lists) for free or order a paper copy.

Thousands of youngsters join nationwide cookathon

THOUSANDS OF YOUNGSTERS JOIN NATIONWIDE COOKATHON

More than 100,000 young cooks at home and in schools are set to take part

Budding young chefs in schools across England are preparing to take part in a national cookery challenge to win a share of £4,500.

With the help of parents, teachers and members of their local community, pupils from over 300 schools will be joining more than 100,000 people from across the country in the annual Let’s Get Cooking ‘BIG Cookathon’, supported by the Big Lottery Fund, which aims to get as many people as possible cooking a healthy dish together on the same day, Friday 4 April 2014.

The culinary contenders will be creating a healthy alternative to a Friday night take-away – the Easy Peasy Pizza. The recipe has been ‘cooked up’ by the Children’s Food Trust and the experts in pizza-making – PizzaExpress, which has supported the charity since it launched its Getting Kids Cooking initiative in 2013 with the aim of inspiring a million kids to get cooking using fresh ingredients.

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Cookathon 2013 at Holy Rosary Primary School in Oldham
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Cookathon 2013 at Coupals Community Primary School in Suffolk

Greenside Primary School, Lets Get Cooking Event. Pupils prior to cooking

Cookathon 2013 at Greenside Primary School in Ryeton

 

Last year, pupils from Coupals Community Primary School in Suffolk were crowned BIG Cookathon regional champions. The school is now getting ready to don their aprons once again.

Let’s Get Cooking club coordinator Sandra Linnane, said: “The BIG Cookathon is such a fun event that everyone can get involved in, not just within the school but the wider community.

“Being part of the BIG Cookathon brings together all of what Let’s Get Cooking is about. Seeing children and their families having fun cooking together is such an important life skill that it makes all the work that goes into the event worthwhile.”

The annual BIG Cookathon is now in its sixth year and for the first time ever, families at home are encouraged to join in too.

Maggie Sims, Head of Let’s Get Cooking, said: “We are so excited about this year’s Cookathon because by getting families at home involved as well as schools, there’s no limit to how many people we can get cooking! We’ve already got an estimated 100,000 people pledging to cook on the 4 April, which means that this will be the biggest event we’ve ever held!

“We’re encouraging mums, dads, grandparents and neighbours to download the recipe from our Let’s Get Cooking at Home website and really make a night of it.

“It’s fantastic that this year the Cookathon will be taking over kitchens in homes as well as schools up and down the country and I encourage everyone to take part. It really is an opportunity to be part of something big!”

For home cooks, there will be PizzaExpress gift cards and high street vouchers up for grabs. To enter simply download the recipe from letsgetcookingathome.org.uk and cook the pizza with your friends and family then upload their photo to the site to be in with a chance of winning.

Let’s Get Cooking is a national network of school-based cooking clubs run by the Children’s Food Trust charity, which has been supported by an initial £20m grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Wellbeing programme and boosted by an additional £3.6m grant last year.

Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund Director for England, said: “Cooking is a brilliant opportunity for families of all generations to spend quality time together, learn new skills, discover new flavours, and conjure up healthy culinary creations. With the sixth BIG Cookathon extended to the home as well as schools, I would like to encourage all aspiring young Jamie Olivers and Nigella Lawsons to get their aprons on this Friday, and get cooking.”

Maggie Sims said: “So far, Let’s Get Cooking has helped more than 2.4 million people improve their cooking skills and the impact it’s having at home is huge. We know that 92 per cent of members use their new cooking skills at home, and more than half tell us they now eat more healthily.

“Cooking and eating together are such powerful ways to bring communities together, and that’s what the BIG Cookathon is all about.”

For more information visit: www.letsgetcooking.org.uk   www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk

How to eat like a Greek

Any of the Greek islands is a perfect holiday destination for a foodie – Greek food is among the best in the world. So when I had the opportunity to go to Crete for a week and try as many restaurants and authentic food as I possibly could, I jumped at the chance!

I found a great deal at the very reasonably priced Aphrodite Beach Club, which – as the name would suggest – is right on the beach in the Chersonissoss Gouves area. It’s a standard resort for people who are looking for sun, sea, sand and the possibility of some exploration. With all the usual facilities, I found it an extremely pleasant place to stay, I particularly liked their pool and made good use of it. Although you can book in all inclusive, I decided not to for obvious reasons – I knew I’d want to get around the island and try as much local food as I could, so didn’t want to be tied down to all inclusive.

Cretan food is generally regarded as one of the healthiest in the world, as are many of the Mediterranean cuisines. It’s a lot to do with their usage of fresh and high quality ingredients, rather than lots of adornments and sauces. They concentrate on freshness, using wild herbs and greens and purity of taste – and, of course, the gorgeous pure olive oil.

As you drive around the countryside, you’ll smell fresh herb everywhere – they grow wild sage, thyme, marjoram, oregano and many other herbs, and it perfumes the warm air. Absolutely gorgeous! Oregano is extremely common in Cretan food, but thyme parsley, marjoram, basil and dill can also be tasted in many dishes. You’ll find them in dishes but also in the herbal teas that are very popular.

Local markets have an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit that are pretty unrecognizable to those from the UK, used as we are to bland imports. In Crete, fruit and veg taste like it’s meant to taste – strong, full flavored and beautifully colored. It’s a pleasure to eat something as simple as a tomato from the food markets you’ll come across in many villages.

Pretty much every dish you’ll try has some kind of olive oil used. Some Cretan dishes are extremely liberal in their use of olive oil – and it only enhances the flavor and enjoyment. This isn’t too surprising when you realize that there are over 1.5 million olive trees on Crete and every person on the island consumes around 25 litres a year. It’s the healthiest kind available, with low acidity and a divine taste.

From the many dishes I tried, I particularly enjoyed a lot of the appetizers that are popular. Dakos is a very common Cretan dish – it’s a kind of traditional dried bread that has been baked several times over. It’s moistened with water and topped with olive oil (of course!), cheese, oregano and tomato – it’ crunchy, light and absolutely moreish – and I’ve brought it back to the UK with me. So delicious and easy to make at home.

Other simple dishes that are absolutely lovely includes their abundance of pickled vegetables – from artichokes to wild onions, olives and many, many others are typical appetizers. if you like to pick at lots of small things, then you will love the Cretan way of eating!

Dolmades are stuffed grape leaves, with a gorgeous filling of rice, minced meat and herbs – not really specific to Crete but very common and very delicious. This is just the tip of the Cretan iceberg, if you’re interested in food from Crete, I recommend you get yourself over there and try it all for yourself!

Art in the Park Picnic

‘Art in the Park Picnic’ free live art competition with illustrator and author of ‘Lets Make Some Great Art’, Marion Deuchers. 

Sunday July 7th noon to 3pm Barnard Park, London N1 0WF. 

All proceeds donated to children’s charity, www.justforkidslaw.org 

London, July 4th – The ‘Art in the Park Picnic’ will take place at Barnard Park, London N1 0WF, this Sunday July 7th, from noon – 3pm where kids are invited to explore their painting skills and enter a free live art competition under the guidance of internationally acclaimed award-winning illustrator and author of kids book ‘Lets Make Some Great Art’, Marion Deuchars.

Parents are invited to bring picnics to help celebrate the launch of www.mykidsy.com. London’s first dedicated & fully customisable Children’s Activity Hub and will be the first of many inspiring activity events led by creative ambassadors.

The art will be judged by a panel of art ambassadors and children and prizes will be awarded on the day for the best three works. A further 20 artworks will be auctioned on the website and all proceeds will be provided to children’s charity, www.justforkidslaw.org

The first 25 parents to arrive at the event on will receive a limited edition T-shirt featuring the cheeky www.mykidsy.com site mascot, Kidsy.

The entrance to the picnic area is on Barnsbury Road and the nearest tube stations are Angel, Highbury and Islington and Caledonia Road and Barnsbury.