A CROSS-cultural cooking project is transforming lives in Glasgow's South Side.

Catering company and ­social enterprise Fusion Bites was officially opened in Govanhill by MSP Nicola Sturgeon.

It will bring together local women through a love of cooking.

As well as providing lunches, buffets and catering for events, Fusion Bites supports women from ethnic minority backgrounds in training, work experience and finding jobs.

Tahira Razaq, one of the head chefs of Fusions Bites, said: "Since I have joined Fusion Bites my life has changed completely. It has given me a focus. I have been cooking all my life but I never realised that I had so much potential.

"I am now acquiring numerous skills. Fusion Bites has given me the opportunity to meet new people and become more active. My health has ­improved and I am a much ­happier person."

Fusion Bites was set up by members of the Merge Welfare Group - a group of Govanhill Housing Association ­tenants - with support from Association staff.

Merge Welfare aims to help its members through a range of activities that promote ­confidence, self-esteem and learning. Bosses said Fusion Bites, funded with help from Glasgow City Council and Govanhill Community Development Trust, is the group's most ambitious project to date.

Ms Sturgeon, MSP for Govanhill, said: "This is a great day for the volunteers who have created Fusion Bites.

"I'm pleased that the women running this new catering enterprise will be creating jobs and bringing people together in the Govanhill community."

Fusion Bites have been supported through the Council's New Business Fund and were also the winners of Govanhill Community Development Trust's Social Enterprise Dragon's Den event.

John McLardie, chairman of Govanhill Housing Association, said: "We are thrilled to have helped Fusion Bites get up and running."

catriona.stewart@ eveningtimes.co.uk