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

life pleasures.jpg

These 30 little everyday things are guaranteed to lift your spirits


Wonder Woman is inspiring some adorable responses from kindergartners


The best and coolest gluten-free restaurants, cafes and bakeries in the UK

We bring you 29 places to chow down sans gluten

23 Aug 2017

This prosecco advent calendar will have you waving goodbye to summer

We're suddenly very excited about Christmas

by Megan Murray
22 Aug 2017

Lidl is selling £3.33 bottles of prosecco – but there’s a catch

Bring on the bubbles

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

A vanilla ice cream shortage is currently sweeping the UK

But it’s still 99-with-a-flake season!

by Moya Crockett
15 Aug 2017

The mobile bar that delivers gin straight to your door

Gin that delivers

by Moya Crockett
14 Aug 2017

We would screw over our friends for free pizza, study says

Well, it is pretty good. Sorry.

by Amy Swales
10 Aug 2017

The gin bauble game just got updated for Christmas 2017

We look forward to trees entirely decorated in things we can eat and drink

by Amy Swales
10 Aug 2017

The untranslatable foreign words all foodies need in their vocabulary

Put down your grief bacon and read this

by Amy Swales
09 Aug 2017

This gin is one of the best in the world – and costs under £10

It keeps topping the polls in industry taste tests, but leaves you change from a tenner

by Amy Swales
27 Jul 2017

These are the UK's best bars for indulging your love of gin

G&T, anyone...?

by Jenny Tregoning
27 Jul 2017