Refugee cooking school gets go-ahead to serve alcohol in lessons

The cookery school is run by Migrateful to help refugees and migrants who run the classes

The cookery school is run by Migrateful to help refugees and migrants who run the classes - Credit: Federico Rivas

A charity that runs cookery classes led by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants has been given a licence to offer alcohol during lessons.

Migrateful was started four years ago and runs more than 1,000 classes in cafes across London.

It is ploughing profits from online classes held last year into its new base at the council-owned Peel Institute in Northampton Road, Clerkenwell.

The social enterprise had asked for a licence to sell alcohol from midday to 9.30pm for up to 24 events a year.

It expected up to host 30 people at classes and a maximum of 60 at events.

The cookery school is run by Migrateful to help refugees and migrants who run the classes

The cookery school is run by Migrateful to help refugees and migrants who run the classes - Credit: Federico Rivas


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It also wanted permission to play recorded music from noon to 9.30pm for classes and until 11pm at the events.

Several residents were concerned about the impact of noise.

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Noah Walton, the charity’s head of operations and finance, told Islington Council's licensing committee: “We’re not just an educational charity, we’re also a social enterprise.

“We work to help people who’ve got very traumatic backgrounds integrate into society, get into work and avoid poverty, and also change hearts and minds and attitudes towards refugees.”

He said there were 24 cooking stations and in reality classes might have 14 students.

Mr Walton explained the “ambient” music was likely to be from the tutor’s home country and would be played at a low volume so they could talk over it.

The charity had scaled back the hours it had asked for initially after talking to residents about their concerns.

Resident Julian Malins said: “The consumption of alcohol is absolutely incompatible for studying or learning.”

He also questioned why music was needed at a cookery school.

The cookery school is run by Migrateful to help refugees and migrants who run the classes

The cookery school is run by Migrateful to help refugees and migrants who run the classes - Credit: Federico Rivas

He said: “My objection is noise – 30 customers plus staff leaving under the influence of alcohol will be noisy.”

Nicholas Jones, who runs a recording studio in Kingsway Place, said he was “reassured it would be well run” after meeting Migrateful staff but was worried about disturbance from music.

“Constant noise is a health hazard and we want to be sure that it won’t become a problem,” he added.

Mr Walton explained that the sale of alcohol would help make the school financially  sustainable.

The council’s licensing sub-committee approved the licence.

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