Support Older People’s Day & tell us who’s #FullofLife!

A special day is taking place this week, which is very close to our hearts so we simply had to get involved. Casserole Club will be supporting Older People’s Day (1st October) and we’d love you to be involved!

Celebrate your special older person

Tell us something amazing or fun about them and how they are full of life. This could be some nugget of advice they gave you, a story about the past, what they’re doing today, or what they hope to do in the coming years. Anything goes! We’re all about celebrating people who have lived a full life that we can all take inspiration from.

Tell their story

So, tell us something about your nan, great Uncle Frank or whoever’s made a lasting impression on you. Tweet us @Casserole_Club with the hashtag  #FullOfLife or post a story on our Facebook page.

(Example: “My gran would really like Casserole Club. She was a dancer when she was younger, and she still keeps fit with dance classes in town!”)

Paul Mitchell/delicious magazine

Casserole Club diner, Diane | Paul Mitchell /delicious magazine

Suggest to win

We’re happy to say Casserole Club is growing and we are always on the lookout for older people who might want to join as a Diner. If you know someone who could benefit from a home-cooked meal and a friendly chat, why not suggest them to us?

Suggesting diners doesn’t mean that you’re signing them up to Casserole Club. It’s just gives us the opportunity to see if they would be interested in joining up either now or in the future when we come to their area.

If you suggest someone, you’ll not only be introducing them to the joys of Casserole Club but you’ll also be entered to a free draw for the chance to receive a signed cookbook from Casserole Club’s very own volunteer cook and winner of Celebrity Masterchef 2014 Sophie Thomson. Sophie’s new book My Family Kitchen is a treat for any food lover!

So spread the word about Older People’s Day and let’s share some great stories!

Find Casserole Club online, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Prepare to be Blown Away – Introducing the Caring Cooks of Jersey

A couple of weeks ago Melissa posted on our Facebook page to say she’d been inspired to start a similar community project in Jersey, after reading about Casserole in Waitrose magazine. After just a few months, Caring Cooks of Jersey has already grown to 40 volunteers cooking around 100 meals a week!

When Melissa first decided to start offering to cook for anyone going through a hard time, she was inundated with offers of help – and new people are still joining in every week. With so much help, Melissa was struggling to find people to cook for, and so got in touch with the local foodbank to offer meals to their community. This is now one of the main places the Caring Cooks support, allowing the foodbank to supply quality, nutritious, home-cooked frozen meals to their users, along with the normal food parcels – which is fantastic.

As well as the foodbank, the group have cooked for a women’s refuge whilst their kitchen was being refurbished, and regularly cook for a number of families – including a family of 7 where mum has serious heart problems and faces surgery soon.

The Caring Cooks’ Facebook group is full of posts that we can really only describe as heart-warming. It’s clearly a community of love, and also one that beginning to come together to do more than just cook meals.

A picnic in the park for everyone involved is planned for the summer, and they are beginning to run volunteer cooking days with local businesses. Cooks share recipe ideas, what they’re cooking, and are constantly lending each other equipment and donating food (a post today offers two chickens to anyone that can use them).

The whole of the Casserole team has been really touched to hear about the amazing work being done by the Caring Cooks of Jersey, and the fantastic impact they’re having on their community.

If you’re in Jersey and want to get involved, drop us a comment below, and we’ll put you in touch.

Keep up the good work, Caring Cooks!

Update: This post has sat in our drafts folder for a few weeks, and since we wrote it, the Caring Cooks have announced plans to start their own foodbank in partnership with a local community centre. How amazing is that?!

All photos from the Caring Cooks Facebook Group – thanks!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.