At Heart & Parcel, we bring women from migrant communities together by making dumplings and developing ESOL skills.
Who are we?
Heart & Parcel was founded by Karolina Koscien and Clare Courtney, two friends based in Levenshulme, Manchester who share an interest in dumplings and social work.
While Karolina grew up in Poland with a Pierogi-making expert mother, Clare spent her childhood in Hong Kong surrounded by Dim sum and later in her adult life discovering Jiaozi whilst working for three years in China. They met in 2010 working in a French restaurant in Manchester, and bonded over a love of discovering dishes, cooking and eating them.
Dumplings are interesting as they appear in almost every culture but differ in shape and filling. We want to introduce these various parcels to the British food scene where they can stand alone and be celebrated as a delicious nourishing snack.
At Heart & Parcel, we view dumplings as a powerful metaphor.
The filling inside dumplings represent the hidden resources and skills women from migrant communities living in Britain today possess that lie untapped and unused. Too often are these women’s potential overshadowed by stronger demands for other, more ‘mainstream’ skills.
Why Women from migrant communities?
The recent British government has continually criticized migrant communities, specifically Muslim women for not learning English and therefore not integrating. Yet at the same time they have been withdrawing support by cutting funding to ESOL (English classes set up by the government) across the country. Our project is a direct reaction to this, opposing this view of migrant women as ‘a problem that needs to be fixed’.
We set up this project because there needs to be greater support and respect for women from these communities across Manchester who we have spent so many years working with. 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.
How does our project work?
Making dumplings involves many hands, communication and teamwork. We use this process as a method to engage with women using English as the medium.
We facilitate fixed term projects with weekly sessions where these women can practice making dumplings from different cultures and teach others how to make similar parcels from their own cultural experiences. This unique approach to ESOL allows women to develop their skills and realise their potential, giving space to explore these hidden resources whilst making friends across communities along the way.
How do we keep sustainable?
We also offer private workshops and catering where organisations can hire us for an afternoon of dumpling folding, making, chatting and eating.
Our dumpling funds go back into the communities, maintaining these sessions and creating further ESOL provision.