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By Bonny Burrows

Lang Lang men are getting busy in the kitchen, as part of a new council initiative promoting social inclusion.
Blokes in the Kitchen is a men’s-only cooking workshop that provides an opportunity for participants to learn new cooking skills.
According to Cardinia Shire councillors, the idea is similar to that of a men’s shed, but in a kitchen setting.
Its aim is to provide a safe space for men otherwise disengaged or at risk of disengagement from the community to come together, socialise and learn a skill.
During each session the focus is on a different cooking method – and the inaugural session on barbecuing on 7 September attracted 10 participants.
Councillor Graeme Moore said the fortnightly program, held at the Lang Lang Community Centre, had the capacity to provide much more than cooking skills.
“It can promote social inclusion and participation for otherwise potentially isolated men,” Cr Moore said.
“Getting together around food, preparing meals and then sharing them, is one of life’s basic activities and one that we know brings people together in a positive and enjoyable manner.”
He said when men were exposed to circumstances outside their control, such as the death of a partner or loss of a job; they were often left fending for themselves.
During these circumstances, men often lost a major part of their identity, Cr Moore said,
“Coming up we’ve got Suicide Awareness Week and I think part of the problem is when men get put in these positions they’ve got nowhere to turn,” Cr Moore said.
“I think just getting people together to join one another’s company through food … it brings people together.”
Fellow councillor Ray Brown described the initiative as an “inspired idea”.
“So many men miss the opportunity to develop their cooking skills, for one reason or another, so to be able to pick up a few pointers in a fun and supportive workshop is fantastic,” Cr Brown said.
“This is a pilot program, but we hope to get enough interest to be able to offer it more widely across the shire.”
For more information on the program, aimed at senior men, phone 5997 5704.

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