louise johnstone


Louise Johnstone - Community Food Worker

How long have you been in post?
Two years in this post.

Tell me about your role and day to day duties and responsibilities.
I am responsible for delivering the Let’s Cook Programme within Annandale and Eskdale. I support individuals, groups and families with the basic life skills required to prepare and cook a healthy nutritious meal from scratch. The sessions are very hands on with a focus on cooking on a budget using everyday store cupboard ingredients. I also support Yvonne McGregor (Generic Health Improvement Worker) with the Fun Families Programme. This programme supports parents, grandparents, carers and their children to cook together while learning about key health messages. The programme also encourages families to involve the children in meal planning and helping to make the right food choices while shopping. I am also responsible for contacting referrals, planning sessions, finding a suitable venue and sourcing all the ingredients for each session at the best price.

What motivates you most about your job?
Every session is different and that’s one of the many things I love about my job. It can be very rewarding to bring a group of people together who might suffer from social isolation, anxiety and other mental health issues and then watch them grow in confidence while preparing and cooking a meal. These sessions encourage small lifestyle changes which can have a positive impact on the participant’s physical and mental wellbeing.

What has given you most satisfaction at work recently?
Helping to deliver Fun Families and Let’s Cook Sessions alongside Yvonne. It is so satisfying to see the children so engaged and excited to try new foods. Practical Hands on cooking sessions help to keep the children engaged while also learning important messages around food and health.
I have also enjoyed helping to deliver sessions based around healthy snacks and reducing sugar intake. These sessions have been very well received and there seems to be a growing interest from community groups and schools around healthier eating, which is very exciting. Hopefully by working in partnership with our schools and community groups we can help to make a change by supporting individuals and families to make healthy food choices.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
It can be challenging to reach the most vulnerable people. Working in partnership with schools and community groups in the future will hopefully give us a better chance of reaching those most in need and help to reduce food poverty and health inequalities.

What have you done previously (in terms of jobs and skills) which supports you in your current work?
I also work as a cook at Annan Hospital and have a good understanding of the relationship between food and health and wellbeing. I worked as a support for learning assistant within local schools where I gained experience of supporting individuals and groups. I have always loved cooking and I am very passionate about passing on those skills to others.

How long have you been involved with SHAP?
2 years.

How have you been involved in SHAP?
I am a member of SHAP and as Community Food Worker, my day to day role and activities relate to the Food and Physical Activity Action Plan.

What are your hobbies and interests outside work?
A friend motivated me to take up cycling again this summer and I loved it! I had forgotten how good an early morning cycle made me feel for the rest of the day. I also enjoy photography, music, long walks and spending time with my family and friends.

For more information please contact Louise on
01461 204741 or email ljohnstone4@nhs.net