Happy National Friendship Day!

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Jess & Claire 2015

This Sunday, 2nd August is “National Friendship Day.” So what a better time to start getting to know some of your neighbours by sharing a home cooked meal and starting a new friendship?

Casserole Club helps bring people together over the dinner table by putting volunteers who like cooking in touch with others who would benefit from a home cooked meal every now and then.

Are you a keen cook who’d like to give back to the community and make a new friend? Do you know someone who might benefit from a friendly chat and a tasty meal from a neighbour? If so, get in touch with us today on 020 3475 3444 or visit www.casseroleclub.com.

Claire and Jess are Barnet residents who have become friends by sharing meals through Casserole Club. Claire lives on her own, so having Jess visit her on a weekly basis is something she really values. Claire says, “Jess is very sweet and generous. I really appreciate and enjoy her food…”

“Seeing Jess every week is so lovely and she’s now a friend to me.”

Jess has also loved getting involved with Casserole Club She says, “I look forward to Tuesday night, I really do. I look forward to going round and seeing Claire and it takes such a little part of my time – maybe half an hour – but that is half an hour she really, really enjoys and she gets to tell me about her life and how her week has been.”

Jess and Claire’s story was recently featured on ITV’s “Tonight” programme. We’ll be posting a clip from the episode shortly, so stay tuned.

Casserole Club has helped shared over 2,000 meals across the UK and this number is continuing to rise! To get involved by becoming a cook or by receiving a fresh home-cooked meal, give us a call on 020 3475 3444 or visit our website at www.casseroleclub.com.

And if you don’t think you’d be able to share a meal but still want to support the project, drop us an email at hello@casseroleclub.com as we’re always looking for a helping hand.

Three ways you can help older people in Volunteers’ Week!

This week is Volunteers’ Week. So why not discover new ways to get involved with volunteering in your community?

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Take a dip into Casserole Club

Casserole Club helps people do something great with an extra plate! By making it possible to share food and company with older neighbours, we help knit communities together. We’re so happy to have been the starting point for many a new friendship and many a delicious meal.

Casserole Club now has over 7,000 people who have signed up as a Cook to share an extra portion of food with an older neighbour. Here at Casserole Club, we are so overwhelmed by people’s enthusiasm and love for the project so we just wanted to say a big thank you to all of our volunteers for their hard work! We love hearing the stories and how Casserole is making such a difference to those involved – both Cooks and Diners.

“I think it’s a brilliant service, and I hope it continues to do well!”

Clara, Casserole Cook, Tower Hamlets

Thank you all at Casserole Club for really making a difference for me. I enjoy seeing Sophie every week and we have really hit it off. It’s helpful to me because I can’t go out easily and it enables me to eat better.”

Edith, Casserole Diner, Barnet

But we don’t just want to spread the love about Casserole – here are two other projects that we think are excellent!

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Use practical ways to embrace old age

When They Get Older is a service which helps older people maintain a quality of life and address the challenges which old age often raises.

“We like to think our web site can help families understand each other’s needs a little more and take practical steps to making life better for everyone.”

Have tea! (and cake obviously)

National charity Contact The Elderly is another way of helping older people tackle loneliness and social isolation. The charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone.

“The group is welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same, which means that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship.”

Read more about Casserole Club and the other great ways to help older people here and see how you can get involved with Volunteers’ Week in your area.

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

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

Job Opportunity: Be the beating heart of Casserole Club

Casserole Club Volunteers Week

Do you love food, your community and technology? Are you a born communicator – online, offline, face-to-face and the written word? If so, we need you to grow, support and develop the Casserole community.

You’ll be in regular contact with our cooks, diners and clients, travelling around the UK helping to kickstart Casserole across the country and possibly beyond. Working with an excellent team you’ll feed your discoveries into the ongoing development of the product and service we offer.

  • Term: Full time, 6 months contract (including 6-week probation), with the hope of a meaningful extension
  • Location: Casserole HQ is in London, near the Barbican. But you could be based down here or anywhere between London and Liverpool (travelling to London a couple of days a week, with the gift of a Casserole Club rail pass!)
  • Start Date: We are ready when you are… but very soon would be good
  • Salary: £20-25,000 (depending on experience)
  • Closing Date: Monday 22 December 2014

Read the job description and if you fancy your chances, email hello@casseroleclub.com with a CV and covering letter, or email ingrid@wearefuturegov.com if you have any further questions.

JOB DESCRIPTION

Casserole Club Community Organiser

ABOUT THE ROLE

You will be the beating heart of FutureGov’s Casserole product. Working with local community groups and organisations you will help get people signed up to Casserole Club, and you will be a point of contact for our cooks and diners, answering their queries, supporting matching them up, and checking things are going well.

As we work with councils you will be helping them provide excellent customer service to cooks, diners and local organisations, training them in Casserole’s high quality standards and giving them the confidence to run the service.

Your job will be to help councils gather a local Casserole movement, advising on community engagement techniques and leading by example. You will feed what you learn back into the overall Casserole development process, translating from our customers into changes to the product.

YOUR EXPERIENCE

  • Experience as a community organiser, convener, or similar
  • Experienced at innovative community engagement in a range of formats e.g. market stalls, workshops
  • Experienced at using social media for organising large groups toward action
  • Experienced at training and leading others in community engagement practice

YOU ARE…

  • Bright, lively and sociable: a natural connector and mobiliser
  • Able to talk to anyone and make them feel comfortable – from our older diners to our younger cooks
  • Able to communicate well with local community groups and make connections in a local area
  • Organised, methodical, professional: able to manage and coordinate large and complex events
  • Unflappable
  • Flexible and adaptive in your approach: able to work your way around obstacles
  • Confident on the phone
  • Excellent at written communication, especially on social media
  • Willing to use and learn a range of digital tools in your work

ROLE REQUIREMENTS

  • Community organising – getting people engaged and enthused to be part of a movement
  • Creating a program of engagement activities and supporting councils to make them happen
  • Sharing your knowledge, understanding and community contacts with councils to help them get Casserole off the ground
  • Training local organisations and councils in the high customer service standards of Casserole and helping them implement them in their locality
  • Offering ongoing excellent customer service to existing cooks and diners
  • Feeding into the overall development process of Casserole to make sure the voice of our customers is heard

AND FINALLY….

Casserole Club is part of FutureGov. We are a tight team and want you to be willing to pitch in with other projects, work and events.

If you fancy your chances, email hello@casseroleclub.com with a CV and covering letter. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Casserole is heating up in Australia

Casserole Club Australia

A mealshare taking place in Casserole Club Australia

This week saw Casserole Club, our community meal sharing project, celebrate its one month birthday in Australia.

There’s no big birthday celebration planned, but the occasion did provide the perfect opportunity to look back at what’s happened since we took the magic of Casserole in the UK and made it happen in down under.

Despite some concerns about how “Casserole” would translate to an Australian audience (“Tucker Club, anyone?”), not surprisingly the love for Casserole out here is every bit as great as it is over in the UK.

Here’s what people have had to say about Casserole Club:

“The program is a great way to encourage more people to eat fresh and delicious meals and it also helps to tackle social isolation — strengthening community connections with every bite.” — East Ward Councillor Graham Hackett.

 

“I am a stay at home Mum. Apart from looking after my adorable 18 month old son, two of my favourite things are reading and cooking. I don’t have time/money nowadays to do things like give blood or regular volunteering, but I do love cooking hearty stews and soups, so was very interested to read about the casserole club as a way to help out in the community.” — New Casserole Club Cook

Here’s a rundown of the numbers, one month in:

  • Diners – 8
  • Cooks – 40
  • Mealshares – 2

As you know we’re live in 3 council areas at the moment – Canterbury and Surrey Hills – City of Boroondara, Brunswick in Moreland City Council, and in the town of Lancefield in the Macedon Ranges Shire – but we have already had people from 7 other areas registering as cooks, plus an enquiry from an interstate organisation.

It might not seem much, but it takes a lot of effort just to get the scheme up and running, making sure the right safety checks are in place and that we can recruit the right volunteers for the project. And there will be a heap more pair-ups and meal shares soon.

Facebook is starting to fill up with some nice posts from cooks with their meals and veggie gardens. Take a look and give us a like at facebook.com/casseroleclubau

We’re also getting some nice local media coverage – here’s a summary:

So that’s a brief happy first month update. Thanks again for all the great support from everyone that made it happen. We can’t wait to see the community grow and grow!

Live in Australia and want to get involved with Casserole Club? Head to casseroleclub.com.au and sign up now!

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!).

BBC Radio 5 takes a Look at Social Isolation and Loneliness in Today’s Older Generation

Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

Less than 40% of care home users say they have as much social contact as they would like. That is a staggering statistic that presenter Shelaugh Fogarty gave on her BBC Radio 5 show – and that’s not including the older people who don’t go to care homes.

Fogarty spent the day at the Peartree Centre in Milton Keynes at an event hosted by Age UK, with dozens of older people who gather at the centre for some much needed socialising.

We have lots of Diners signed up to Casserole Club and many of them have similar experiences to those people that Shelaugh met in Milton Keynes. They are not only receiving meals, but meeting someone new in their area. To these people, it’s not so much about the food as it is about having someone come into their home, asking how they are and wanting to hear about their day.

People like Elsie, 84, whom Fogarty interviewed, say it’s the worst feeling, being lonely. Elsie dresses herself up everyday – even Sundays when she won’t see anyone all day – and has won awards for volunteering. But, she wonders, “how come my family don’t come around to visit me any more?” Elsie says she has children and grandchildren, yet she will go days without seeing anyone.

Jim, also 84, lost his wife of 56-years, a few years ago and retreated from social activities to deal with his grief: “The one thing no one prepares you for is loneliness,” says Jim. “ And if you look at it, the worst punishment you could actually give somebody is to put them in social confinement. And there’s so many people in that situation.” He said getting back involved with things and activities he used to do pulled him out of his grief. He now lives with his lovely son and and daughter-in-law in a separate part of their home and says he is very happy.

Mary, another attendee at the Peartree Centre, lives on her own and originally comes from a big family. Now, however, Mary said she can go all week without seeing anyone. She is not used to this loneliness during the week, explaining that it is only recent, as everyone is gone. When it comes to the weekend, however, her grandchildren always visit, and she says it instantly brightens her day.

Hearing stories like this really makes you realise how much one phone call, or one chat over a cup of tea, can mean to an older person. Last month, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stated, “According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, there are 800,000 people in England who are chronically lonely.” When you hear a number like that, how could you not want to donate even 5 minutes of your time to someone who just wants some company?

At Casserole Club, we are already hard at work to minimise that number. If you want to get involved in the campaign to end loneliness, sign up on the Casserole Club website, and if we are live in your borough, you can start cooking for, and visiting an older neighbour near you.

If you know an older person, whether it be a neighbour, parent, or a friend, you can refer them to us and we will find them a Cook.

 

If you want to hear more from Shelaugh Fogarty and her visit to the Peartree centre in Milton Keynes, click here to listen to the whole show.

Are YOU a Casseroler?

Do you find yourself filling up your fridge with leftovers, which you eventually throw away anyway?

Do you think an elderly neighbour would appreciate a home cooked meal more than your bin would?

Do you ever wish there was a networking site that could link you up with said older people?

Or do you just love cooking?

If you answered “Yes” to any (or all) of these questions, then Casserole Club is for you.

We find elderly neighbours in your borough who may not be able to cook for themselves anymore, or find it extremely difficult, who would love to meet up with you and share a portion of your leftovers.

There is no set number of hours or days you have to spend with your neighbour.  You can drop off your leftovers once a month, say hello then leave; that’s fine.

Or you can, like the majority of our existing Cooks, bring your elderly neighbour a meal about once a week, sit down, have a chat, and form genuine friendships!

So, go on.  Sign up, it’s easy!

Why not? Try it once and if you decide it’s not for you, then we understand. But if you end up loving it, like we do, won’t you be glad you tried it?

(The answer is yes, you will!)

We are currently operating in the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Barnet, and Reigate & Banstead, but if you sign up in your area you will receive an email letting you know when we are live in your borough.

Recipe Wednesday – #1 Natasha’s Chicken and Tarragon Casserole

We WANT your recipes!! We now (amazingly!) have over 800 people signed up on the Casserole site – the vast majority of whom are Cooks eager to share meals with their neighbours. Given we have such a community of kitchen aficionados, it seems silly not to take advantage of all that knowledge and start sharing your favourite recipes with the rest of Casserole and beyond. From now on – every wednesday is Recipe Wednesday, where we’ll feature one delicious recipe from a Casserole member. If you have a recipe you’d like to share, send it to hello[at]casseroleclub.com with the Subject Title “Recipe Wednesday” and it may just appear on the blog! If you have a picture of your tasty dish, or an anecdote about why its a favourite, send that along as well!

Photo by WordRidden

To kick things off, we thought we’d start with the recipe Natasha cooked up for The Times article a few weeks ago – a scrumptious and moorish sounding casserole, perfect as the weather gets colder. So send in your recipes and enjoy this first of many recipes to come!

Natasha’s Chicken and Tarragon Casserole 

Ingredients

  • Two chicken breasts on the bone
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 85ml white wine
  • 5 tbsp double cream
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • Ground black pepper
  • Sea salt

Method

Cut the onion into eight wedges, cut the carrots widthways into sizeable slices and crush the clove of garlic.Lightly fry the onion wedges and carrot slices with the garlic until they start to brown, and place to one side. Lightly fry the chicken breasts until brown all over. Place the chicken breasts in the centre of a baking dish and arrange the vegetables around the edges. Boil the chicken stock, mix with the white wine and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook in a preheated oven at 200C for 40 mins, turning the chicken and vegetables after 20 minutes. Separate the tarragon leaves from the stalks. Warm the double cream and stir in the tarragon leaves as it starts to simmer. Serve the sauce on top of slices of chicken breast and vegetables.

Love Food Surrey

Did you know that this summer, Surrey residents are set to throw away an Olympic sized swimming pool worth of salad? Or that every day, the same residents could fill a double decker bus with binned bread?

Surrey County Council’s Love Food Surrey Campaign is on the mission to raise awareness about just how much food we waste in our daily lives, and help provide people with helpful tips, tools and tricks to reduce the amount you throw out, and save you money in the process. The programme is run by Surrey Waste Partnership, which includes the County Council, and the 11 district boroughs within the council, working together to help better manage the area’s waste.

The Love Food Surrey site features plenty of useful information and features to help you plan and manage your food better. There are recipes for optimising your leftovers or slightly tired ingredients, a meal planner to help you shop smarter (which could potentially save you up to £50 a month!), and facts and figures on just how much food we waste and what effect that has on the environment, waste services, and our own purses.

There are plenty of simple, easy things we can do to help reduce the amount of food we throw away (including sharing those extra portions on Casserole!), so have a look at  Love Food Surrey to see what you can do in your own home to fill a few fewer double decker buses next month!