Having discovered she was spending around £2,000 a year on takeaway pizza, Claire Hartley has pledged it will be homemade margheritas from now on so that she can save up to take her sons on holiday.

The 35-year-old mother of four boys – aged one to 16 – realised just how much she was shelling out on the lads’ favourite food when she attended a course on nutrition, food hygiene, cookery and household finance.

Delivered by HealthWORKS Newcastle, the pilot project offered accredited and certificated training to people from the Benwell and Scotswood areas of Newcastle.  It was funded by New Tyne West Development Company (NTWDC) – the partnership building ‘The Rise’ – as part of the drive to integrate new and existing communities in the area.

Said Claire, of Joan Street, Benwell: “When you order a takeaway a couple of times a week you don’t think to work out just how much it costs over a period of time.  But when we sat down and did the calculations as part of the family budget session on the course, I was shocked to discover I was spending around £2,000 a year.

“That’s a lot of money and could easily pay for a great caravan holiday up the coast for me and the boys.  So, we had a go at making our own pizzas during the nutrition sessions and that’s what we do at home now too.

“They are just as tasty and healthier, as we get to control what goes onto them.  I usually set out all the ingredients and let the boys select their own toppings to put on the base.  It makes it a family activity as well as a pizza feast.”

Claire was one of ten women – including one from The Rise – to take part in the initiative.  HealthWORKS Food Skills Manager, Julie Stephens, added: “We are delighted how well the course was received. It was nice to bring residents together in a local venue, in a learning environment.

“We looked at nutrition, healthy eating, food hygiene, exercise and lifestyle and volunteering opportunities.  It was great fun and everyone took something away from the experience – like Claire, and her pizza pledge.

“We hope that the feedback from the lovely people who attended the course will help us secure further funding from organisations like New Tyne West Development Company and allow us to deliver more courses like this.”

Lee McGray, Development Director with NTWDC, said: “It’s great to see residents getting together for constructive activities and Claire’s story will certainly make me take a closer look at my own takeaway habits.”

Designed to kick start economic and social revival in Newcastle’s west end, The Rise is a £265 million development involving Newcastle City Council and developers Barratt Homes and Keepmoat.

The largest single site, housing led regeneration project in the north of England, it will eventually become a diverse, sustainable community of around 6,000 people living in approximately 1,800 well designed, modern, energy efficient homes – supplied by a district heating centre.

The scheme won a national Royal Town Planning Institute award for planning excellence and a regional Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors award in 2015.