2020 has brought many changes and uncertainties but we have also seen countless examples of people finding ways to stay positive and embrace the new normal.

Some of our own energetic Richmond EAL members have continued with their volunteering activities in charity shops and other settings. One example is Marlenys who volunteers each week in the Marble Hill Park Kitchen Garden where fantastic organic fruit and vegetables are grown and sold not-for-profit. Dedicated volunteers like Marlenys help to keep the garden maintained throughout the year.

Keep up your amazing work, Marlenys!

Marlenys in Marble Hill Park

Sadly we had to abandon our popular EAL Healthy Cooking Club from the beginning of lockdown and we are still unable to reinstate our face to face weekly cooking sessions.

However, a group of enthusiastic members have ingeniously set up a weekly remote cooking club on Zoom. Here are some photos of their excellent dishes and an article by Anudhi who organised this lovely activity.

The current participants speak the following languages: Japanese, Malayalam, Sinhala, Spanish and Tamil.


Just after lockdown, Tomomi, Manju, Ayako, Antonette and myself decided to start a weekly cooking club.  The idea was that each person would distribute a recipe beforehand so that we could all cook together on Zoom.  Since starting I have also invited a school friend Amani, who feels quite at home with us and faithfully joins us from Sri Lanka every Thursday.  Her poor husband has to sometimes have a very late dinner if for some reason we alter the time of our meeting! 

Our main focus is on cooking and promoting healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes.  We follow a few simple rules so that we do the best we can as a cooking club. We continue to grow and learn from each other the subtle differences of our cultures and our cooking methods.

After a few weeks of cooking we got the news that Tomomi and family had to go back to Japan.  We met in Kew Gardens for a picnic to see her and bid her goodbye.  Tomomi still keeps in touch with us but hasn’t been able to cook with us because of the eight hour time difference and her busy schedule.

So far we have cooked dishes such as Tofu Doughnuts, Flourless Chocolate Swiss Roll, Potato and Pepper Curry, Tomato Chutney, Dhal Curry and Coconut Sambol, Onion Bhaji, Pizza, Ratatouille, Calzone, Spicy Couscous, Paneer Curry and Pumpkin Curry. Every Thursday we make our families feel as if they are in a five star restaurant!  

We are very grateful to Manju for her excellent graphic design skills and displays of her culinary creations.  We all get inspiration from her in food presentation which is an art in itself. 

We have had a few teething problems with Zoom which is all too familiar but we are all determined to overcome any obstacle to continue with the club and our social interactions across the globe. 

The cooking club has given us all optimism and the joy of friendship during these uncertain times. 

On Tuesday the 26th of February Dan Strachan from Richmond Borough MIND will be giving a presentation on how to look after our mental health and stay well. All our learners and volunteers are welcome to join!

On Monday the 4th of March we are planning a trip to the Orchid Festival in Kew Gardens. All our learners and volunteers are welcome to join us. We will meet at the Victoria Gate at 10am. Please remember to bring a packed lunch, drinks, warm clothes, comfortable shoes and an umbrella!

On the 5th of March we are having First Aid training by Annie, who is one of our volunteer lifeguards at the WFSC (Women’s Friendship Swimming Club). The session will cover basic first aid in the home. This is a free event for learners who attend our classes.