I dropped in to see Donna Borokinni at Govanhill baths, where she runs a community cooking workshop on Wednesday afternoons to find out more about her groups and how she got involved with working in the community.
Hi Donna can you please tell us a bit about who you are and how long you have lived in the Southside etc.?
My name is Donna Borokinni, I have lived in the south side all my life – I grew up in Pollokshields, lived for a couple of years in Govanhill and now live in Cathcart and have lived here for nearly 18years. I am a qualified nutrition and health worker.
You work for Springburn food hub and run healthy eating and cookery workshops in Govanhill baths can you tell us a bit about both of your current projects?
I currently work part time for the North Glasgow Community Food Initiative; I am the Food Hub co-ordinator for the Springburn area of Glasgow, the other day organisations can book me in to deliver cookery classes, programmes, events, or for training. At present I run a regular weekly cookery group at Govanhill baths (funded by the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the People and Community fund from the Scottish Government) and I am also delivering a cooking on a budget course at Toryglen Community hall. I also cook with the men’s health group at Nan McKay hall on a monthly basis. I have also run programmes for The red Cross – through there programme for young adult asylum seekers and refugees from across the city, Woodlands community Gardens, running a number of cookery courses and leading on cooking for their food hub – weekly pop café.. I ran the kitchen with a team a volunteers and made a vegan/vegetarian seasonal 2 course meal and anyone could attend who faced food poverty (you should check them out!)
The aim of the food hub is to improve people’s health and wellbeing by helping them make positive choices in relation to their diet. The courses help people to cook on a tight budget and to give them essential skills to make healthy meals at home.
Did you deliberately choose to work in Govanhill and Springburn? If so what made you choose these locations? I.e. was it a particular need in those areas because both are affected by high poverty and unemployment levels?
The north of Glasgow has the highest levels of poverty and some of the worst diet in the whole city so I was very excited about the challenge, Also it felt good to branch out to that side of the city. The majority of my work has been in my locality Govanhill and Pollokshields and surrounding areas.
Both areas have a large migrant population so this work will inevitably lead to greater social involvement which will no doubt have integration and be-friending opportunities for both migrants and locals. Can you tell us how you got involved in community work and why you enjoy it?
My first community job was a youth worker at Govanhill Youth project as I have a degree in Media theory and production, I really wanted to share my skills so young people felt heard and empowered. I then went on to work at Castlemilk youth project; one of my groups was an after school club for local young asylum seekers and refugees – I began cooking with the group as I realised this was an easy way to connect with them and to bring them together as not everyone spoke English and you don’t need to speak the same language to cook. I then went on to work at a youth health organisation where I gained my qualification in nutrition and health. I ran a number of workshops and sessions around nutrition and health across the Southside; in schools and for a number of community organisations. I discovered that one of the main barriers was that people lacked basic cooking skills. At was at this stage I decided I wanted to teach people how to cook. I have never looked back… I then went to work for the Hidden Gardens (somewhere I always wanted to work – it is in the area where I grew up and I always wanted to give something back to my local community.) I ran 2 groups; a women’s cultural cookery group (aim to bring women together from different cultural backgrounds to learn about each other through food) and their baby weaning programme. I then went on to run their community programme for a number of years.
My passion is food and I have been keeping my eye for a job with a food organisation, so when I saw the post at North Glasgow I felt like it was my dream job, I applied and got in.
So Springburn Food hub – is a way of connecting all the work we do in the area – from gardening, cooking, fruit and veg barra’s (pop up shops), training and volunteering..
Are there involvement opportunities or volunteering positions at either of your current projects? If so how can people get involved?
Anyone from the Springburn area can volunteer or take part in any of the programmes on offer
You can attend Springburn food hub meeting on Tuesday 25th to find out more.
The Govanhill cooking group runs as a 10 week block and you can enrol by emailing Govanhill Baths on firstname.lastname@example.org, space are limited to 12 participants per block.
You live locally to Govanhill and there is a lot of negative press. But there is actually so much going on. What do you personally love about Govanhill and its surrounding areas?
I love the diversity of people – the food and the food shops! People on the street talking and playing music, especially young people. The art scene and how it engages with local people, in particular the baths and the buzz around the place with so much going on. The different languages and colour. I also particularly love all the projects that address the needs of the community and area and the rise in interest of the community gardens.
I often see you in Queens Park running with your dog and I know that you have done fundraising for charity through your running. What organisations have you raised money for and how do you choose who to donate to?
I ran last year to raise money for the Baths. I chose to donate to them because the opening and development of the building is at a massive cost and they always need donations. On that occasion I managed to raise £300.00
Are the charities that you run and donate to ones that have directly benefited people you know or are they organisations you feel do good work?
They are usually local community charities and groups like Govanhill Baths, Southseeds, Govanhill Law Centre and South East Integration Network, although I have also donated to S.A.M.H or Scottish Association for Mental Health.
This week’s cookery class recipes were for vegetable curry and chocolate and beetroot brownies. Here they are so you can try it yourself!
Pea & new potato curry
Prep time; 15 mins
Cook time; 1 hr 10 mins
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
- thumb-sized piece ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Madras curry powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 750g new potatoes, halved
- juice 1 lime
- 500ml pot natural yogurt
- small bunch coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped
- 200-300ml vegetable stock, or pea stock (see tip, below)
- 300g podded fresh peas (or use frozen)
- lime wedges, to serve
- 2 naan bread, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the onions and cook over a low heat for 10-15 mins until soft. Throw in the chillies, ginger and spices, and cook for a few mins. Stir in the potatoes and lime juice, coating in the spice mix.
- Add the yogurt, coriander stalks and the stock. Simmer slowly for 35-40 mins until the potatoes are soft and the sauce has reduced. Stir through the peas and cook for another 5 mins. Sprinkle over the coriander leaves, and serve with lime wedges and warm naan bread.
Prep time;15 mins
Cook time;40 mins
Makes; 15 – 20
With around half the fat of regular brownies, these are a slightly less guilty pleasure, but still have that intense chocolate hit.
- 500g whole raw beetroot (3-4 medium beets)
- 100g unsalted butter, plus extra for the tin
- 200g bar plain chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 100g plain flour
- 25g cocoa powder
- Wear a pair of rubber gloves to stop your hands from staining, then top, tail and peel the beetroot – you’ll need about 400g flesh. Roughly chop and put into a large bowl. Add a splash of water, cover with cling film, then microwave on High for 12 mins or until tender.
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. While the beetroot cooks, butter then line a 20 x 30cm traybake or small roasting tin. Roughly chop the chocolate and cut the butter into cubes. Tip the cooked beetroot into a sieve, drain off any excess liquid, then put into a food processor or blender with the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Whizz until the mix is as smooth as you can get it. The chocolate and butter will melt as you do this.
- Put the sugar and eggs into a large bowl, then beat using an electric hand whisk until thick, pale and foamy, about 2 mins. Spoon the beetroot mix into the bowl (it won’t look too pretty at this stage, but bear with me), then use a large metal spoon to fold it into the whisked eggs. Try to conserve as much air in the mixture as you can. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, then gently fold these in to make a smooth batter.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 mins or until risen all over, with just the merest quiver under the centre of the crust when you shake the pan. Cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.
Words and Images Lisa Craig