Taste the Difference: Casserole Club featured in Sainsbury’s Magazine

Casserole Club in Sainsbury's Magazine

Could cooking up an extra batch of meat and potatoes help bring a smile to someone’s face?

That’s the question asked in a Sainsbury’s Magazine article featuring Casserole Club.

In a brilliant double page article called “Casserole Crusader”, journalist and Casserole Cook Becky Howard describes her relationship with her lovely Diner Louie, who she has been sharing meals with through Casserole since last year.

“With the focus on strengthening community bonds, getting more people eating fresh food and reaching out to lonely elderly people, it seemed like something I’d actually be able to incorporate into my life.

It would be easy to portion off a big meal to deliver to a neighbour. And I love cooking.

Inspired, I signed up.”

The article story goes on to explain how Becky applied to be a Casserole Club Cook and the process she went through before being matched up with her Diner Louie, so it’s a great read for anyone who wants to find out more about a new Casserole Cook’s experience.

We are always looking for new Cooks, if you want to get involved in Casserole Club, go to http://casseroleclub.com to sign up.

If you know someone who could benefit from a regular home-cooked meal in Staffordshire, Barnet, Tower Hamlets, Whitstable or Reigate & Banstead, drop us a line at hello@casseroleclub.com or call us on 020 3475 3444.

5 Ways To Help Get Casserole Club In Your Area

One of the most exciting things about running Casserole Club is hearing from the enthusiastic people like you who really want to help make Casserole happen in their areas.

We really want to grow Casserole Club to cover the whole country, but are only able to start up in one area at a time, rather than letting everyone sign up and take part straightaway.

While it’s great to have so much enthusiasm from great people like you, at the moment we can only start Casserole in areas where we have support from an organisation like the local council, NHS board, or a housing association. Taking an area-by-area approach also means we can reach those people that need Casserole Club the most, rather than spread ourselves too thin.

If you’re not in one of our live areas (Barnet, Tower Hamlets and Reigate & Banstead), there are a few little things you can do to help us get to where you are.

1. Sign up at CasseroleClub.com

Make sure you’ve signed up at www.casseroleclub.com

When you sign up with your postcode, we can work out how many people are in each area of the country, which really helps us to get new areas signed up.

2.  Email your local councillors

Visit www.writetothem.com to find out who your councillors are, and tell them why you think they should bring Casserole to your area.

Perhaps you’ve noticed some of your older neighbours are isolated or at risk? Or feel that your area could do with its community spirit being bolstered? Or maybe you just want to share your great home cooking!

Whatever your motivations are, make sure you explain a little bit about what Casserole is, and tell them they can get in touch with us on hello@casseroleclub.com or 020 3475 3444 if they’re interested.

Oh, and make sure you let us know too – we want to make sure we say thank you :)

(Unfortunately we can’t give you a standard explanation of Casserole to send to your councillors, it would get picked up by the writetothem.com spam filters)

3. Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter

We’ve taken the liberty of suggesting a little something for Facebook or Twitter below, but don’t forget good old email or just having a chat!

Facebook:

I’ve just signed up to Casserole Club – a community meal sharing network that connects  you to an older neighbour who’d benefit from a home cooked meal and some company. Sign up at www.casseroleclub.com/cooks/sign_up and hopefully you can get cooking soon!

Twitter:

Just signed-up to @casserole_club, a community meal-sharing scheme. Check it out and sign up too – http://www.casseroleclub.com

And while you’re there, don’t forget to like Casserole Club on Facebook or follow @casserole_club on Twitter.

4. Help us spread the word

If you’re particularly up for helping spread the word about Casserole when we are near you, let us know in the comments.

As soon as we have an inkling we might be coming your way, you’ll be the first to hear.

5. Keep in touch

If you’ve got any other ideas, thoughts or suggestions of people we should be talking to, please just drop us a line to hello@casseroleclub.com – we love hearing from you!

Want to see Casserole Club come to your area? Sign up now (and be sure to tell your friends to as well!).

“Happy Meals”: Casserole Club featured in Red magazine



Casserole Club in Red Magazine - Happy Meals

We are really excited that Casserole Club has been featured in March’s issue of Red Magazine, one of our favourite lifestyle magazines!

In a beautiful double page spread, journalist Natasha Lunn meets with our fabulous Cook Oruj and her lovely Diner Munna who have been sharing meals through Casserole since last year.

Here’s a sneek preview of the article to whet your appetite:

“Sharing food is, and always has been, a bonding experience. And as warm, spicy smells of vegetable stew waft around the room, the sociable and inclusive mood is infectious.

An hour into my visit, I realise the food on the table is just an incidental extra. For Munna, the benefits are obvious: something to look forward to, some company and, most importantly, ‘a chance to laugh’. I sense that she, like so many other elderly people, has stark moments of loneliness.”

The heartwarming story goes on to explain how Munna and Oruj (and her children) have become really good friends through Casserole Club, showing that there’s much more to a Cook and Diner’s relationship than just sharing food.

Read more about Oruj and Munna’s story on the Red magazine website: “Why you should volunteer for Casserole Club”

We are always looking for new Cooks, if you want to get involved in Casserole Club, go to http://casseroleclub.com to sign up.

If you know someone who could benefit from a regular home-cooked meal in Barnet, Reigate and Banstead, Tower Hamlets or Staffordshire, drop us a line at hello@casseroleclub.com or call us on 020 3475 3444.


New Video on Casserole Club and Food for the Elderly

Food For The Elderly - Watch Casserole Club

Beth Price from Bournemouth University has put together a brilliant video of Casserole Club as part of her Food for the Elderly project:

“British families throw away the equivalent of six meals worth of food every week, meals that could easily be shared with an elderly neighbour who struggles with cooking.

One London based scheme is determined to tackle the issue of malnutrition and isolation by bringing people together over food.

With the number of meals-on-wheels being delivered decreasing year by year community initiatives are becoming even more important and you can find out more about the work Casserole Club is doing by watching the video below.”

As part of the video, Beth interviewed Carrie Bishop, who helped start Casserole Club. Here’s what Carrie had to say about the project:

“We thought food is clearly a social object, it’s something that brings people together. Soe started to think is there a way for communities could cook for each other. We had the idea of Casserole Club and we started to test it out at bit. People really seemed to respond really well to the idea, which is why we decided to take it forward.”

As Beth mentions at the end of her video, if you’d like to get involved with Casserole Club as cook, or you know someone who would benefit from having a hot meal delivered to their door, then visit the website and sign up.

There’s no pressure for you to cook multiple meals, you can just cook and deliver one meal and leave the club again but if you enjoy it you can keep cooking for the same people as often as you would like.

Even if the Casserole Club isn’t in your area yet, you can still register your interest by signing up online.

Thanks for the great video, Beth!

Happy Boxing Day. What could you do for your neighbour today?

Today we’re asking what could you do for your neighbour?

In the last year, our wonderful Casserole Cooks have been sharing extra portions of delicious home cooked food with older Diners in Barnet, Tower Hamlets, and Reigate & Banstead in Surrey.

They’ve helped hundreds people who might not be able to cook for themselves and brought a little companionship to people who may live on their own.

On Boxing Day, we want to encourage people to think about their older neighbours who might be spending their Christmas alone, and how you could help them.

Do you know of an older neighbour who lives on their own? Why not take them a portion of food or invite them round for a cuppa? You’ll be bringing cheer to someone who might be lonely this Christmas.

Share what you can with them and share the story with us! We’ll re-post the best stories sent to us on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so send us your stories and photos and make this Casserole Christmas one to remember.

Even if you can’t break way from family commitments (or from watching movies on the sofa) make sure you check in on your older neighbours in the cold weather, especially if it’s icy or snows.

And if you’re concerned for someone’s welfare, remember to call your local Community Police team on 101, who can help people through what can be a difficult time of the year.

We hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas. Please sign up to Casserole Club if you fancy meeting someone new in 2014 and sharing good food and company with them throughout the year.

Food and the City: How do new food systems impact on our cities?

Last week, Matt Skinner from Casserole Club took part in the sixth Design Culture Salon, a series of occasional discussion events hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

This event’s theme was “Food and the City”:

“Re-thinking food has also been combined with the delivery of public services, improving the urban environment and enhancing community cohesion. These projects are varied in their methods,visions and goals and have socio-cultural, economic and environmental repercussions, as well as the potential to catalyse a politically active citizenship. What can we learn from these food based initiatives? What are their aims and approaches and how far do they achieve their goals?”

The chair for the evening, Gabriel Wulff, began by saying that from ‘guerilla gardening’ to ‘urban bee-keeping’, the topic of designing food systems has been building an audience in the UK.

Matt spoke about how designing food initiatives like Casserole Club can impact our cities:

“While ‘foodie culture’ in Britain has created ripe conditions for people to share recipes and cooking stories online, Casserole Club’s diners (most of whom are aged over 70 and are socially isolated) are not well-connected to this.

Technological and cultural barriers need to be negotiated. It has been key to work with local councils in addressing these issues of isolation.”

Matt also positioned Casserole Club alongside others community food projects, such as the Incredible Edible project.

“What we are learning from this and other projects is that food, in particular home-cooked and home-grown food, is a powerful tool for bringing people together.

The visibility of these projects is a factor in their success, whether through online platforms or in physical spaces in the city.”

You can read the full write up of the Food and the City event over on the Design Culture Salon blog.

The next Design Culture is on 10 January 2014 at 7pm in the V&A Museum, London on the subject of “Transparency in Design”. Booking is free, but essential. Book here.

Photo by mattjiggins

Top 5 Mince Pie Recipes for Christmas

Christmas Mince Pies

In the last year our wonderful Casserole Club Cooks have been sharing extra portions of delicious home cooked food with older Diners in Barnet, Tower Hamlets, and Reigate & Banstead in Surrey.

But after so many meals shared, what if you’re struggling to think of something different to bring your older neighbour when you visit them this Christmas?

Or what if you want a little extra something when you share a meal over the Christmas period?

Never fear, Casserole Club is here!

The traditional mince pie is a great way to celebrate Christmas as a seasonal pudding for a Casserole Club meal share.

Here’s our top 5 mince pie recipes to help you get in the Christmas spirit and share a treat with your neighbour – and make it a very #CasseroleChristmas indeed.

1. Unbelievably easy mince pies

Found on the BBC Good Food website, you can throw the dough around and the mince pies still come out crisp and biscuity in this kid-friendly Christmas recipe.

2. Nigella’s Star-Topped Mince Pies

We’re definitely on #TeamNigella this Christmas, especially after finding this recipe for star-topped mince pies. They are small, to be popped straight into the mouth in one go; the pastry is plain, the better to contrast with the rich, fruited filling; and they have not full casings but little stars as lids, which makes them look beautiful and taste flutteringly light.

3. Vegan Mince Pies

We love the soft, crumbly texture of these mince pies, based on a combination of coconut flour and cashews. Plus you can use any exam jam as a spread. Yum!

4. Delia’s Traditional Mince Pies

The queen of cooking comes to the rescue with her traditional mince pies. A traditional family recipe, Delia says she “will always cherish fond memories of my mother’s and my grandmother’s cooling trays piled high with freshly baked mince pies on Christmas Eve, ready to be packed into tins and brought out whenever friends popped in for Christmas drinks.”

5. Frangipane mince pies

A twist on a Christmas classic from Mary Berry. You will need deep mince-pie tins for these sweet treats.

Want an excuse to try making one of these recipes? Sign up to Casserole Club and find an older neighbour who would love to meet you and try one of your mince pies!

Casserole Club Story: Vijaya and Tom

This Christmas, we’re asking our Cooks to share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour this Boxing Day. We’re calling it the #CasseroleChristmas campaign.

To inspire you, we’ll be sharing stories from current Casserolers, so you can get a feel for our community and find out the difference you can make through Casserole Club.

Inspired by Tom and Vijaya’s story? Sign up now to Casserole Club.

  • Casserolers: Vijaya (Cook) and Tom (Diner)
  • Location: Barnet, London
  • Dates: Matched in June 2013
  • Meals shared: Approximately 20
  • When: Every Sunday afternoon

Casserole Club's Tom and Vijaya

Vijaya’s Casserole Club Story

Vijaya is a Casserole Club Cook. She has cooked for Tom over twenty times now, having shared a wide variety of food from chicken curry, pumpkin soup to shepherds pie.

Not being content with just delivering one extra portion, Vijaya usually delivers two, so Tom is guaranteed to have at least two hot meals a week:

Vijaya joined Casserole Club after hearing about it from a work colleague:

“I think its fabulous, I’ve said that from the beginning. When I usually deliver his meal, I bring enough for two days. It’s nice to know I can give somebody a home cooked meal. To me that is important.”

After signing up, the Casserole Club matchmaking team introduced her to Tom. Even though Tom lives twenty minutes drive away from Vijaya, she has found the time since July to visit him once a week.

Since meeting Tom, Vijaya has got to know all about him, his family and his hobbies. When she goes over to deliver his meal, she usually stays for a cup of tea and they talk in detail about Tom’s family life and what he is getting up to over the week to come.

Having got to know Tom, Vijaya is concerned for his wellbeing. When she goes to visit him she not only asks about what is currently happening in his life, but also offers friendly advice on who to speak to in certain situations:

“There are probably a lot of people who don’t go out, so they’re not getting that hot meal and that’s the biggest problem. I will do Casserole Club until I can’t do it anymore.”

Although Vijaya has got to know Tom very well over the last five months, she would also like to meet new Diners in her area. She would like to meet other older people who would benefit from sharing one of her home cooked meals and getting to know a friendly neighbour.

Vijaya’s passion for the project is obvious. Although she is concerned about not being able to Cook for Tom forever, she trusts Casserole Club to locate new Cooks for Tom when she feels she is unable to share her food for him any longer.

Tom’s Casserole Club Story

Tom is a Casserole Club Diner. He lives alone in a flat in West Barnet where he shares a weekly meal with Vijaya, his current Casserole Club Cook.

Tom signed up to Casserole Club at a day centre he goes to twice a week. Although he likes to go to this centre, it’s opening hours have recently changed from five to two days a week. This means he spends more time in his flat than before:

Although he could go to another local day centre, he feels he may not fit in with people he doesn’t know. This means that his social group is getting smaller.

Tom has been sharing food with Vijaya since July and looks forward to his meal share every week. When she comes over they sit and chat about everything from his latest bingo game to what his family it up to over Christmas. Its clear to see that a friendship has started to grow though sharing a weekly meal:

“I rather like it. It’s just somebody to come over. It’s nice, it’s just what I wanted.”

Being an avid bingo player, Tom likes to keep Vijaya updated with the latest bingo politics. Knowing this Vijaya has even offered to go and play soon with him.

Although Tom and Vijaya’s friendship has grown, he is still very grateful every week when she comes to visit him. Every time the matchmaking team speak to him after a meal share, he always has good things to say about his Cook.

Although Tom is still amazed that people would bother cooking for him, he now is able to see that the project is growing . He can see that local people do want to meet and get to know him over a home cooked meal.

Thanks to Tom and Vijaya for sharing their thoughts with us.

Inspired by Tom and Vijaya’s story? Sign up now to Casserole Club.

How you can help the half a million older people who spend Christmas alone

Loneliness and isolation unfortunately is a reality for many older people in the UK all year round.

Older people are hit even harder at Christmas, which can be the loneliest time of the year for them.

Here are just some of the facts (source: Age UK):

  • In the UK, more than half of all people aged over eighty are lonely
  • About 3.8 million older people live alone
  • Half a million older people spend Christmas alone
  • 70% of these are women over 65
  • 17% (480,000) said that Christmas brought back too many memories of those who had passed away.
  • Almost 2 million people (18%) are worried about not being able to get out and about as much because of shorter, darker days and poor weather conditions.

This is shocking.

To help combat the problem, the NHS has called for an army of good samaritans in England to become a ‘Winter Friend’ to neighbours who may be at risk during cold weather.

At Casserole Club, we’re committed to reducing loneliness, so we’re encouraging people from across the UK to become a Winter Friend and share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour this Boxing Day.

If you live in Barnet, Tower Hamlets or Reigate & Banstead, sign up today and we’ll match you up to an older person – not just for Christmas, but over the winter period so you can build a warm relationship throughout the cold winter months.

If Casserole Club isn’t currently in your area we’d still love you to sign up so we can let you know when we’re live in your area.

Casserole Club and other support services can help reduce loneliness and isolation , but it is you – the people and the communities across the UK – that play the biggest part.

Sign up now to get cooking »

If anyone is worried about an older person this winter, you can also call the Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65 for expert advice on staying warm and keeping well. Lines are open from 8am to 7pm, 7 days a week.

Photo: j thorn explains it all / flickr

5 Tips to Make the Most of Christmas Markets

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

As you may have noticed, Christmas has begun for Team Casserole. The #CasseroleChristmas campaign has seen loads of people from across the UK pledge to share their a portion of their Christmas food with an older neighbour this boxing day.

Last Sunday, to help spread the Christmas cheer, the Barnet community joined Team Casserole to sign up as new Cooks and get people sharing their Christmas leftovers. It was great to meet the people of Barnet and spread some Christmas cheer on a cold December day.

Because, you know what they say: it’s simply not Christmas time until you’ve been to the High Barnet Christmas Fayre!

So, we thought we’d share our top tips for making the most of Christmas markets if you’re running a stall this year and so you know what to expect if you spot us at a Christmas market near you.

1. Be Prepared: Bring along Santa’s Little Helpers

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

No, that’s not a real elf. But it can help to have some friendly helpers (ideally at least 3) to man your stall and encourage people to come over to find out more about Casserole Club. And we’ll definitely be watching Elf on Channel 4 this Christmas (a great British tradition).

2. Stand Out From the Crowd: Wear a stylish hat and a bright orange megaphone

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

Even an elf flown all the way in from the North Pole might not be enough to get people’s attention, especially in a busy Christmas market. That’s why it can be useful to have a helping hand in the form of a rather attractive chefs hat and orange megaphone.

3. Stickers Are Great: But understand you can’t make everyone happy

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

Despite wearing the very sought after Casserole Club sticker, this little one is not impressed with how easy it is to help out an older neighbour this Christmas through Casserole Club. Her mum looks like she’s having a great time though, so hopefully she’s signed up as a cook and will be sharing a portion of good, home cooked food with a neighbour in the next few weeks.

4. Try out different ways of approaching people to find one that works

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

We’ve experimented with different ways of getting people over to our stall. From a map of diners in the nearby area, to a “pin the nose on the reindeer” game, we tried out lots of different incentives for get people’s interest. And it worked! For example, this lovely lady is signing up to Casserole Club. We’ll be emailing her this week to match her with an older neighbour near her and she’ll be warming the heart of one of our diners very soon.

5. A smile is always welcome on a cold day

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

At the Christmas market,  125 Cooks signed up to Casserole Club, which is pretty amazing and why our team have big smiles on their faces. But we reckon we can smash that this week.

This Saturday we’ll be at East Finchley, and you have the chance to meet one of Santa’s ACTUAL REINDEER (they can’t tell us which one for security reasons, Blitzen is quite the celeb these days after the Justin Bieber episode).

So hope to see you on Saturday 7 December 2013 at the East Finchley Christmas market. But if you can’t make it along, make sure you find out more about the #CasseroleChristmas campaign and sign up to Casserole Club.