Community Fund_Accessible Cookbook – University of Reading

Community Fund_Accessible Cookbook – University of ReadingFunding from the University of Reading has helped launch an accessible cookbook designed to help people with learning disabilities improve their cooking skills and learn more about healthy eating.

The Maymessy cookbook is prepared by Acre stylean organization supporting people with learning disabilities and autism across Oxfordshire, and Maymessya cookery school in South Oxfordshire that empowers disadvantaged groups to gain greater wellbeing through developing cooking skills and knowledge.

The two organizations have been working in partnership for two years to deliver safe, inclusive cooking sessions where people with learning disabilities and autism learn how to prepare nutritious food from home-grown ingredients, from local suppliers or from local food projects.

A cookbook for everyone

As a natural progression of the partnership, they wanted to create a cookbook that shared recipes, lessons and skills gained during cooking classes to inspire more people with learning disabilities to learn how to cook healthy food. Someone holding a bowl of fresh home-grown vegetables

However, the costs of printing and binding 250 copies of the book were an obstacle to making this happen. In June 2023, with the support of Claire Newbold, head of student experience and employment from the School of Mathematical Physical and Computational Sciences, they applied to the University Community Fund Initiative.

The Community Fund scheme allows University staff members who work with the charity as part of their job or in a voluntary capacity to apply for one-off grants to help support community projects across the Thames Valley (defined as within the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire or Oxfordshire).

Style Acre’s full funding requirement of almost £1,900 was provided by the University. Once ready, printed copies of the recipe book were distributed to people supported by Style Acre and other charities and schools supporting people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire.

Anita Powell, Ways to Wellness Manager at Style Acre, said: “The main aim of our collaboration with Maymessy has been to improve the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities by supporting their cooking skills and understanding of healthy eating and nutritious.

“The sessions, held in the beautiful countryside surroundings of Maymessy, have provided a fantastic opportunity for people with a wide variety of needs to get into the kitchen and try lots of new food and cooking techniques.

“The cookbook is an extension of those sessions and compiles tried and tested recipes featuring the people we support and their views on how learning to cook healthy food has benefited them. We hope that by sharing the memories of our time with Maymessy and the skills learned in this cookbook, we can help more people continue to eat well and live well.”

A photo of the recipe bookThe book is written with very clear instructions and pictures for each recipe, as well as quotes and pictures from some of the people who have benefited from these cooking classes.

Jamie, a member of the Style Acre community who took part in the cooking classes, said: “I’ve learned more recipes and new skills such as learning how to cut and mince. I tried new things like celery soup. I have enjoyed everything and I love cooking here.”

The Maymessy Cookbook can be buy online or is available at Childrey Stores in Childrey High Street, Oxfordshire.


The cooking classes and recipe book were made possible by a team of volunteers and funders. Volunteers included: Maia Sissons (recipe); Sophie Carson (photography); Lydia Inglis (proof reading); Laura Arnold (design); Chrissy (liquid).

Funders included: Funding Network, Oxfordshire and Voluntary Action, Cllr Bethia Thomas, Oxford County Council, Oxfordshire Community Foundation, Tesco Groundworks, University of Reading and Doris Field Charitable Trust.

Image credits: Sophie Carson / University of Reading

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