Residents at Bells Piece, a service for people with learning disabilities in Surrey, will get the chance to learn cookery skills, thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The £221,000 grant will enable a new training kitchen to be built at Bells Piece, which is run by Leonard Cheshire Disability. It is scheduled to be opened early next year. The aim of the project is to teach adults with a learning disability how to cook and eat healthily, and to educate them about how important a good diet is for their general wellbeing.

By gaining these new skills, disabled people will feel more independent and confident about the choices they are making when planning their meals, and will get more enjoyment out of cooking. The project will see support staff working with 180 adults with learning disabilities over three years to increase their culinary skills and confidence.

Service manager Karen Barron said: “Adults with a learning disability often face difficulties learning how to cook healthily. This leads to them having unbalanced diets and can cause future health problems. It also means that they miss out on the social experience of cooking and enjoying the delights that it brings. “Adults with a learning disability often feel as if choices are being made for them – choosing a menu and cooking are experiences that happen to them rather than events that can be both fun and beneficial to their health. Thanks to the generous sum of money given by the Big Lottery Fund, we are looking forward to tackling this problem in our brand new training kitchen, giving people greater independence.”

Resident Paul Stark added: “I like cooking but I don’t do it very often. I want to learn a lot more about how to make meals and how to eat healthily and I am really looking forward to using the new kitchen and showing off my skills.”

Bells Piece is home to 13 adults with a learning disability, and provides care and support to 23 people living in their own homes. The service also acts as an activities centre for 50 people with learning disabilities who live in Surrey.