City Research Online

A Recipe for Success: Stories of resilience and adaptability

Marks, M. (2023). A Recipe for Success: Stories of resilience and adaptability. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Background: In recent years, a global refugee crisis has emerged, with over 70 million people displaced worldwide. Many refugees experience traumatic events which often result in high rates of mental health issues. Despite this, they are less likely to seek specialist mental healthcare due to various barriers including divergent cultural views on mental health. Therefore, innovative programs that encourage participation in services and incorporate the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of refugees is needed. Recent studies have begun to suggest that cooking could be considered as such an activity. This research aims to answer the question, how do refugees who live in the UK experience the act of cooking, both professionally and personally, and what meaning does it have for them?

Methods: Thirteen participants were recruited in two phases. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the resulting data analysed using Thematic Analysis.

Results: The analysis developed four main themes, ‘cooking opens the door to possibilities’, ‘becoming a culinary ambassador’, ‘cooking is part of who I am’ and, ‘cooking as a coping mechanism’. The research found that cooking had become more to these participants than just a way to prepare food. It was shown to be a healing activity that serves to help cope with challenging experiences by becoming a psychological resource.

Conclusion: By outlining the psychological elements of cooking which contribute to the participant’s ability to grow and development, this study increasing our understanding of the meaning of cooking for refugees living in the UK. Methodological considerations were offered as well as areas for future research to explore and develop.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Marks thesis 2023 PDF-A redacted.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 28 February 2027 due to copyright restrictions.


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