Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

How a supper club is helping unite migrant women - through the power of dumplings

dumplings hero.jpg

The doughy deliciousness of dumplings is being used to bring together migrant women through a combination of cooking and English language lessons.

Innovative supper club Heart and Parcel in Manchester dispenses with a typical community centre set-up of tables, chair and whiteboards and teaches English through cookery classes.

Read more: Get set: glow in the dark doughnuts are here to brighten up your life

Women from a diverse range of communities across the region meet up and cook dumplings – a universal comfort food – in the way they were taught growing up, while picking up language skills in the process. The spoils are then sold at markets and at monthly supper clubs.

Karolina Koscien, who grew up in Poland and Clare Courtney, who spent her childhood in Hong Kong, founded the club after meeting at a French restaurant in the city seven years ago and bonding over their shared love of food.

Dumplings, they say are a “powerful metaphor” for their work.

Karolina & Clare selling Chinese dumplings. Levy Market, Levenshulme

Karolina & Clare selling Chinese dumplings at Levy Market in Levenshulme

“The filling inside dumplings represent the hidden resources and skills women from migrant communities living in Britain today possess that lie untapped and unused,” they write on their website. “Too often are these women’s potential overshadowed by stronger demands for other, more ‘mainstream’ skills.”

And their club isn’t just about offering a collaborative, relaxed and nurturing environment – that dry community centre class set-up is one that’s becoming a more infrequent option in their area. The government has slashed funds for English classes, while “criticising migrant communities, specifically Muslim women for not learning English and therefore not integrating,” the pair explain.

They say the project opposes the view of migrant women as “a problem that needs to be fixed”.

“We want them to be valued on their wealth of previous experiences and wisdom, rather than be assessed and judged by the language skills that they have not yet acquired”.


Spicy or sweet, dumplings bring people together

The free classes have been running since 2015, when the pair were given a £500 grant. It now has £4,000 in funding to become a social enterprise and as well as market stalls, it has taught 20 women, from countries including Syria, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt. to run their own supper clubs.

Read more: Wine makes us feel emotional before we’ve even opened the bottle, says new research

One member, Laila Cheikhmousa, fled war-torn Syria with her husband and four children in 2014 for Salford. One of her children is deaf and her husband is out of work while he learns English, The Guardian reports, but Cheikhmousa now has her own business selling shish barak (meat dumplings in yoghurt sauce), stuffed vine leaves, kibbeh and tabbouleh.

Here’s hoping it becomes a nationwide success.

Images: Heart and Parcel, iStock


kate beckinsale.JPG

Kate Beckinsale’s emotional tribute to her ex and their daughter, Lily


These 30 little everyday things are guaranteed to lift your spirits


Wonder Woman is inspiring some adorable responses from kindergartners


There’s a psychological reason you’re in love with Starbucks’ red cups

It’s not just because Christmas is coming

by Gemma Crisp
18 Oct 2017

Nigella Lawson says this is the next big food trend

Will this steal avocado’s crown?

by Nicola Colyer
18 Oct 2017

The UK's first permanent avocado restaurant is coming to London

It’s everything we avo wanted

by Megan Murray
18 Oct 2017

Your Starbucks Halloween Frappuccino fix is here and it’s fangtastic

Sink your teeth into this

by Megan Murray
17 Oct 2017

Hold up, there's an avocado chocolate bar – AND it’s vegan

Don't fight it

by Megan Murray
17 Oct 2017

Percy Pig has had a scary Halloween revamp (but he’s still delicious)

Percy ain’t so cute anymore

by Megan Murray
12 Oct 2017

This company wants to pay YOU to eat pizza

This is going to be a tough role to fill

by Susan Devaney
11 Oct 2017

2017’s best bar in the world is right here in the UK

And it’s a Martini glass of old-school glamour

by Amy Swales
10 Oct 2017

Lidl has launched hangover-free prosecco, and no you're not dreaming

We've just got our Sunday mornings back

by Megan Murray
10 Oct 2017

An unlimited cheese and mulled wine festival is coming to London

Will you be visiting the city’s giant cheese board this Christmas?

by Susan Devaney
09 Oct 2017