Caring at Christmas: 5 Ways to Help This Winter

Caring at Christmas: Casserole Club in the Big Issue

We love sharing stories of how our wonderful Cooks help through Casserole Club and like it even more when our brilliant community helps spread the word for us.

Our friends at The Big Issue included Casserole Club in their special bumper Christmas issue in an article called “Caring At Christmas”

Our fantastic Cook Oruj was quoted talking about her experience of Casserole Club. Here’s what she had to say:

“I wanted to do something after a neighbour passed away. She suffered a heart attack and feel down the stairs and no one noticed for three days. It made me realise this could happen and I was so wrapped up in my own life that I wouldn’t even notice.

I decided to contact Casserole Club. I started cooking for an elderly woman called Munna whose family live far away. She’s a wonderful, feisty Bengali woman and we see her at least once a week.

We’ve got to know her very well and my two little girls and me will take her out for the day. Very rewarding”

We loved the other tips included in the article, so we’ve published the top 5 here:

5 Ways to Help This Winter

  1. Pop in and see (or call on the phone) an older friend or relative regularly
  2. Do your bit to help out when the cold weather hits, from clearing paths to getting the shopping in for an older neighbour
  3. Get a free thermometer and “Winer Wrapped Up” advice guide from Age UK by calling 0800 169 65 65 and pass to an older friend
  4. Sign the NHS “Winter Friends” pledge to do your bit looking out for neighbours by visiting nhs.uk/WinterFriends
  5. Suss out volunteering opportunities with local groups or Age UK, Contact the Elderly, Independent Age, the royal Voluntary Service or Friends of the Elderly

These are all great tips, so make sure you sign up to Casserole Club if it’s live in your area or pledge help out this winter by doing one of the above.

And if you spot a Big Issue vendor this Christmas, make sure you buy a copy of the magazine. It’s only £3, is a bumper edition especially for Christmas, and you’re be giving someone a hand up, not a handout, this Christmas.

Love Food? Love Helping This Christmas

Everyone should have Christmas dinner this year.

That’s the message we wanted to get across when we spoke to LoveFood.com about Casserole Club.

The article is part of our #CasseroleChristmas campaign, where we’re asking our Cooks to share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour this Boxing Day.

You can read the full article here, but we’ve also copied the piece below for your reading pleasure.

If you feel inspired by the Love Food article, sign up to Casserole Club or check out our #CasseroleChristmas campaign.

Love Food Christmas Logo

The Casserole Club: everyone should have Christmas dinner this year

I love the feeling of preparing for the big Christmas dinner. Roast potatoes smothered in gravy, stuffing the turkey until it’s full, and then sitting down with family and friends to share food and stories.

Neighbours in need

But for whatever reason, not everyone has the money/time/ability to cook a slap-up Christmas dinner of their own… and that’s where The Casserole Club steps in. In case you didn’t catch this lovefood article back in May, here’s a recap about what the club does: we connect local people so that those with extra portions of home-cooked food can share their leftovers with neighbours in need, most of whom are elderly. We’re like a local, community-led takeaway service.

Over the past year, many wonderful ‘Casserole Cooks’ have been sharing extra portions of delicious home-cooked food with older ‘Casserole Diners’ in Barnet, Tower Hamlets, and Reigate & Banstead in Surrey. We’ll be expanding to other areas soon.

Sophie and Nora

To take one example, 51-year-old actress and Casserole Club ‘Cook’ Sophie Thompson is currently sharing a weekly meal with 85+ year-old ‘Diner’ Nora. “I heard about Casserole Club when I saw a poster in a local shop window,” said Sophie. “I thought, ‘ooh what a great idea!’ so I got in touch. I met up with a member of the Casserole Club team and they took me through a few things and explained how it worked and took my photo.”

“I think it’s great because it’s a way of meeting new people in the community… and being a part of Casserole Club gives Nora’s daughter a break too, as she knows her mother can get a meal every Friday from me.”

But there are still many elderly people who remain socially isolated in this country. Recent Age UK research shows that more than 50% of over 80-year-olds in the UK are lonely; the same report suggested that malnutrition amongst older people is increasing. It is estimated that 1.3 million people aged over 65 suffer from malnutrition, which most of the time is preventable.

How you can help

Over the festive season we want to encourage people to think about their older neighbours who might be spending Christmas alone, and how you could help them by taking part in projects like the Casserole Club.

Here are a couple of ways to help an older neighbour this Christmas:

  • Pop in for a cup of tea to make sure they’re ok
  • If it’s snowing outside and dangerous for them to go out, offer to pop to the shops for them to pick up anything they need
  • Offer to test their smoke alarms – many older people don’t realise when their alarms aren’t working
  • Look out for signs that your older neighbour might not be well – post piling up behind door/in mailbox; milk accumulating on doorstep; curtains not moving; distressed pets

This year, we’re also asking our Cooks to share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour on Boxing Day.

We’d love to see lots of lovefood readers get involved with Casserole Club, as we know your food will be truly appreciated by an older person this Christmas.

If you live in Barnet, Tower Hamlets or Reigate & Banstead, then sign up to Casserole Club and we can match you with an older neighbour this Christmas. 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 active in your neighbourhood.

And remember – try and save a portion of your Christmas dinner for an elderly neighbour this year.

Casserole Club’s #CasseroleChristmas Campaign

Ah, Christmas.

Here at Casserole Club we love the feeling of preparing for the big Christmas dinner. Roast potatoes smothered in gravy. Stuffing the turkey until it’s full, then sitting down with family and friends to share food and stories.

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.

Over the festive season we want to encourage people to think about their older neighbours who might be spending Christmas alone, and how you could help them by taking part in projects like the Casserole Club.

That’s why this year we’re asking our Cooks to share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour this Boxing Day.

If you live in Barnet, Tower Hamlets or Reigate & Banstead, then sign up to Casserole Club and we can match you with an older neighbour this Christmas.

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.

Throughout December we’ll be sharing 25 ways to help, including how to take part in Casserole Club if you live in one of our active areas, some of our Cooks’ favourite Christmas recipes and some heartwarming Casserole Club stories to get you in the festive mood.

You can follow along by liking the Casserole Club Facebook page, following @Casserole_Club on Twitter or checking back on this blog for the latest updates.

We’re calling it the #CasseroleChristmas campaign. Get involved here.

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.

Surrey’s New Campaign Could Provide Inspiration to Casserole Cooks

Hey, Casserole Cooks! Feeling stuck when thinking of a delicious meal to make for your Diner from your leftovers? Surrey County Council is here to help with their new Love Food Surrey campaign and accompanying Facebook application.

With staggering facts about how much food Surrey alone wastes each year (over 75,000 tonnes!), the Love Food Surrey campaign offers an interactive platform for people to share their creative recipes and tips to make the most of their leftovers. So stop tossing those apples that are a little too soft, and the banana that has some brown spots on it, and use it to make Fruit Bowl Muffins! Soak your wilting greens in cold water to salvage them for your sandwich, and save your money for something you don’t already have in your fridge.

In honor of the new application, the person with the most likes on their posted recipe will receive a gift, generously donated by local fine food and drink companies. The competition closes on 31 December, so get signed up and post your best leftovers recipe!

Love Food Surrey makes using leftover food and saving money easy! Click here to like their application on Facebook and gain access to their online campaign. Then visit Casserole Club to find a Diner near you who would appreciate a portion of your home cooked meal! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to find out more ways to get involved with your community.

Recipe of the Month: Yummy Mummy Halloween Cake Balls

Are you looking for a scary (but cute) treat to make for your Halloween bash this year? Try these spooky mummy cake balls! At only 102 calories per cake ball (hardly anything when you think of all the yummy goodness that it incorporates) this Halloween treat will be a hit with the kids, as well as the Mums!


Ingredients:

16.5 oz package yellow cake mix

6 oz plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 cup water

2 large egg whites

Baking spray

48 oz Baker’s white chocolate

Mini chocolate chips for the eyes

1 wooden skewer

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly spray a the cake pop pan with baking spray.

Combine the cake mix, yogurt, 1 cup water and egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat until combined. Place the batter into a pastry bag or large ziplock bag with the tip cut off.

Pipe the batter into the prepared cake pop pan and bake about 18 minutes (I rotated the pan after 10 minutes to be sure they baked evenly). Let it rest 5 minutes before opening the pan.

Place the cake balls on a wire rack and repeat with remaining batter. Using a scissor, cut the seam off the balls.

Refrigerate the cake balls for about 45 minutes, this helps the chocolate stick to the cake.

Melt some of the chocolate in the microwave according to package directions, careful not to overheat the chocolate. If it’s too thick add a drop of oil to thin out. Use the wooden skewer and insert into the cake ball, then dip in melted chocolate. Let the excess drip off then place each ball on parchment paper.

Place remaining chocolate into a piping bag and drizzle onto the tops of the balls to make a criss-cross effect to resemble a mummy wrap.

Place the mini chocolate chips over the chocolate for eyes and set aside to dry.

Servings: 48

 

For more tasty treats, check out the Casserole Club Pintrest!  And join Casserole Club to connect and share food with an older neighbour who would appreciate tasting your mini mummies!


Recipe courtesy of SkinnyTaste.com

Did the Great British Bake Off Finale Inspire YOU to Start Baking?

An estimated 8 million viewers tuned in to the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) Finale last night on BBC 2, where Frances Quinn, 31, was announced the winner of the 2013 series of the popular show.

Quinn wowed the judges and audiences across the country with some of the most creative and intricately designed baked goods the show has seen in all four series.  From her very first bake, a giant jam sandwich cake, to her final showstopper cake inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream”, Quinn has proved that she is a deserved winner.

Watching all of those delicious cakes being presented each week has inspired loads of people, especially here at Casserole Club, to try their hand at baking. But what about you?

Are you suddenly confident you can create a five-tiered checkered cake decorated with passion fruit-infused chocolate butterflies and pineapple bumblebees? Or perhaps you just want to give the classic (yet delicious) Victorian sponge cake a whirl.

Either way, instead of going through all that effort to bake it, taking one bite (or slice) of it like GBBO judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry then casting it aside, try bringing some round to an older neighbour who would appreciate some homemade goodies!

Even GBBO runner-up, Kimberly Wilson thinks it’s a good idea! A few weeks ago she retweeted one of our posts, and we were so starstruck we just had to tweet back:

If you have some GBBO-inspired cake going spare, try sharing your tasty hard work.

Why not give Casserole Club a try?

You only have to do it once, after that no pressure.  Even one meal means so much to our Diners. Find out more and sign up here.

Happy World Food Day!

“Healthy People Depend on Healthy Food Systems”


68 years ago today the Food and Agriculture Organization was founded, and since then, every 16 October marks World Food Day.  World Food Day is organized by the United Nations to raise awareness of the ongoing issues in food production and hunger.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) strives to inform people of the worldly problems with the quantity and quality of our foods, stating their objectives as the following:

Picture and information courtesy of http://www.fao.org/

  • to encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;

  • to encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;

  • to encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;

  • to heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;

  • to promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and

  • to strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

A great way to help end hunger is by sharing a plate with someone in need, whether it be through Casserole by cooking and older neighbor a home cooked meal, or through donating food to Food Banks, such as our friends at Tower Hamlets Foodbank.  It can be a little or it can be a lot, but any help goes a long way in the aid to end hunger.

To learn more about what the FAO is doing to help secure better food systems, or to get involved, visit http://www.fao.org/getinvolved/worldfoodday/home/en/.