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.

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!

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

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.