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.

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.

Happy Volunteers’ Week from Casserole Club!

Casserole Club Volunteers Week

Our Cooks are great and – as it’s Volunteer’s Week, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the amazing work of the Casserole Club community to say a huge thank you!

So far, over 4,000 people across the country have signed up to Cook for older neighbours and we are constantly overwhelmed by their enthusiasm, generosity and kindness.

Casserole Club connects volunteers in the community (We call them Cooks) to older neighbours who would appreciate a home-cooked meal (We call them Diners). Cooks prepare a meal in their own home, popping a portion in a container and dropping it round later that day to an older neighbour we’ve matched them with.

Often our Cooks stay for a cup of tea and a chat too. It’s a great, simple way of getting to know our neighbours, sharing delicious and nutritious meals and encouraging lasting friendships within the local community.

Casserole Club has made a massive difference to the lives of people involved, inspiring both Cooks and Diners to eat healthy fresh meals.

As 71 year old Laurie says:

“Having Lyn (Cook) in my life has given me the impetus to eat better and nourish my body more, it’s great, i’m very grateful for this service”

But it’s not just about the food, new Cook Caroline who has just started sharing meals with Anna in Tower Hamlets says:

“Safe to say I think I have made a new friend”.

Despite leading a busy London life Caroline finds it relaxing to volunteer with Casserole Club as it gives her the opportunity to savour the simple things, encouraging her to make time to cook and enjoy sharing food with someone new!

So thank you to all of our amazing volunteers.

If you often have a spare portion of dinner and want to make a difference to an older person near you, how about joining Casserole Club rather than throwing it away?

You can signup online on the Casserole Club website.

Also if you know someone who might benefit from being a Diner with Casserole Club please do get in touch by emailing us at hello@casseroleclub.com.

P.S. We’ve been nominated in the Tech4Good awards, so if you’d like to support our volunteers, please do vote for us as the People’s Choice: http://www.tech4goodawards.com/vote

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.

Cooking up a Storm!

Well we had fun last night!

Despite flooded roads and heavy traffic, eight of our Casserole members made it to East Surrey College for a class on Indian Cooking to Share. We’ve had the idea to run a cookery class for our members for quite a while, so we were so excited to finally get the opportunity to bring some of our community together to do a bit of what they do best – cook!

Our menu was one of Indian curries made completely from scratch – no curry paste here! After a quick introduction, we got to work on our Chicken Curry and Potato and Pea Bhaji. The room quickly filled with the clattering of pans, smells of fried onions, cumin, chilli and ginger. The reason we chose to do a class on curries is not only that it’s something most people might not know how to make from scratch at home, but it’s an ideal dish to share with others!

One of the most wonderful things about bringing people together in a kitchen, especially in a situation like a cooking class, is that strangers become fast friends. Within minutes of getting started, we heard laughter and banter between Casserole members as though they were old chums – once again, we saw food creating a glorious bridge between people and breaking down those barriers that might make getting to know someone a challenge.

Murtz and I spend a lot of time seeing people’s names on the website, reading their emails and hearing their voices on the phone, but nothing beats meeting them in person. Getting the opportunity to hear people’s stories, find out why their signed up and what they hope to get out of the service, and see them bonding with other members straight away is so invaluable to us, and makes all the hard work very well worth it.

In no time, our collection of ingredients were transformed into some top notch dishes that would give any curry house a run for it’s money! There were no kitchen disasters (although I *may* have overdone it with the chilli…) and everyone’s food looked absolutely delicious!

This first cooking class was a bit of a test run to see if people would actually be interested in attending, find out if it was a good way to get feedback from members, and help get members together to meet and make connections beyond the people they cook for – we’re chuffed to say all of the above seemed to work! After the fun of last night, we’ll definitely be looking to do many more of these, particularly as part of the thank you rewards that will be part of our new Plates feature.

Thanks to all the Casserole members who came along last night – it was an absolute pleasure to put faces to names and hear your enthusiasm for the service. We look forward to many more shared meals to come!

Now I’m off to enjoy the rest of my curry 😉

A Lunch Table Video!

As you may know, last week we staged a Lunch Table event in the centre of Redhill, handing out free lunches and talking to passersby about Casserole. Well, you’ve heard the story and seen the pictures, but now, thanks to our very clever project lead Murtz, you can watch the video as well!

Here’s a little peek at what we got up to:

(PS If any are wondering, the song is “Shuffle” by Bombay Bicycle Club)

What a Day!

Well! What a day we had yesterday in Redhill, handing our free lunch in the town centre at our Lunch Table, spreading the ethos and word about Casserole to anyone and everyone willing to chat and eat with us.

Waking up to tempestuous winds and icy droplets of rain falling from the sky, we bundled up our Casserole gear and headed to Redhill – not even this weather was going to keep us from our mission! We’d barely arrived when the guys from Furnistore rocked up with our borrowed dining sets for the day. Lucky for us, there is a big covered area in Redhill, so we shuffled the tables under some shelter and started to set up shop.

Setting up began after the delivery of our furniture from Furnistore!

We’d barely set our chairs down when Chris from Chalk Hills Bakery turned up with two of the most lovely bags of freshly baked bread you’ve ever seen!

The Bread Man himself! Chris from Chalk Hills Bakery delivering our wonderful bread

With our tables set and our bread arrived, we could start to create a bit of ambiance, adding in a splash of gingham and a few Casserole leaflets for good measure.

The last piece of the puzzle was the food, cooked and served up by Munch in Marylebone, who soon arrived with colourful salads galore!

Naomi from Munch sets out the salad spread

With everything in place, it was time to start serving! We’d been getting some funny looks all throughout our set up – after all, who wouldn’t stare at a group of people setting up a picnic dining area in the middle of a town centre…. in the pouring rain no less!

Wouldn't you do a double take if you saw this set up in your town square?

We soon had the curious, the bemused, and the hungry stopping by to see what all the hullabaloo was about, and enjoy some tasty lunch, while finding out who on earth would be crazy enough to give out free lunch to anyone and everyone, especially in this weather…

We were chuffed to have several people recognise the Casserole name, with plenty more telling us stories about how they cook and share food already, and would be interested in a project like this. We met Ron, a man who used to do the cooking for his army troop of 100 men in World War II and still makes an “army casserole” every week, Roy, who runs a youth project in Merstham where one of their activities is food growing (we are excited to see where that link might go!), and several others who live right around the corner from existing Casserole members!

Digging into the feast!

 Our goal for the day had been to serve 50 meals and speak to as many people as we could. Over the course of lunchtime, we ended up serving well over 75 meals for hungry passersby, and chatted to even more about the project. The Surrey Mirror picked up the story as well, sending down a photographer and reporter to cover the Lunch Table and write a little feature about Casserole (you’ll be able to see the story in next week’s paper!).

Most had a really positive response to Casserole, and many were asking when the next Lunch Table might be…ideally with nicer weather next time. By 2pm, our friends at Furnistore were back to collect their tables and our experiment in disrupting the daily lives of Redhill citizens with some nice free food was complete.

Once again, we have to thank Furnistore and Chalk Hills Bakery for their wonderful contributions, and Munch in Marylebone for making such a delicious lunch spread!

And finally, the best bit of the whole day? We hadn’t even crossed Tower Bridge on our drive back when we had a new Cook signed up!

If you missed us yesterday, don’t forget that we’ll be at Redhill Library tomorrow morning for a food themed Rhyme Time, so stop on by and say hello! 

Cake to Door

Have you ever opened your door to a pair of people asking, “Would you like some free cake?” Well if you live in certain neighbourhoods of Redhill, you may have experienced just that yesterday, as the Casserole Crew took to the streets, spreading the word and some free cake love to the people of Redhill.

Baskets of cakes (unfortunately not homemade…. THIS time…) and flyers in hand, two pairs of us wandered up and down neighbourhood lanes, knocking on doors, offering up cake and the opportunity to join a community-centred food project being born in their very own area.

While most of us might dread the knocking of a “door-to-door salesman,” we tried to approach things a bit differently, and that difference payed off. Expecting doors to be shut in our faces more often than not, our plot to lure people with free cakes turned out to be a brilliant way to break the initial barrier between strangers. Upon offering free cakes, people were so amused, bemused, and curious, that they couldn’t help but wonder “What’s the catch?” Even more brilliantly, when they discovered the catch wasn’t something we were selling, but in fact a plan to get ‘neighbours cooking for neighbours,” intrigue turned into nods of understanding and appreciation. Granted there was still a

handful of door slams and “Thanks but no thanks,” but in general, people we far more endeared rather than off put by our proposition (after all, how annoyed can you be with people offering free cake?), and because we targeted areas where there are already Casserole members present, as soon as our new recruits sign up, they’ll be able to get cooking and eating straight away!

Our Cake-to-Door experiment was a great test in just how meaningful person-to-person interaction is when you are trying to start something new. Taking that extra bit of time to talk to someone, offer them a little something nice, and show them just what the ethos of Casserole is all about. This was also the start of a whole string of community activities we’ve been plotting for the month of April, which I’ll go into more in the next post (HINT: rhymetime and free lunch are involved!), to continue to see how we can best spread to word and grow the Casserole community.

One final note, we had another top secret mission during our Cake-to-Door time. Katie Smith, quite possibly our most enthusiastic and supportive Casseroler, has been right along side us from the very beginning – spreading the word, cooking meals and referring members. As a thank you, we left her a little token of appreciation for believing in us from the very start.

Thanks for everything Katie!

A Day at the Redhill Markets

Bag full of homemade treats….check, plenty of warm clothes…check, 6am start…check this could only mean one thing…. Casserole was hitting the markets in Redhill. 

After a long drive through South London we were finally up and about in Redhill to chat to local residents about the Casserole project and the trial we are starting next week. We thought what better way then to cook up some tasty treats and set up a stall in the Redhill Market (thanks to the lovely folks at Hughmark International who helped us get the stall and also to Rachel and Kirsty for cooking up some delicious treats). Check out the great little video Joe’s put together of the day.

Mmmmm... FOOD!

With a big bag full of banana bread cake, rocky road, marshmallow lollipops and choco cinnamon muffins we got loads of interesting people across to our stall to talk about Casserole. Using our simple COOK and EAT cards we signed up 16 new Casserole COOK’s as well as one new DINER and by the sounds of it they can cook some delicious dishes.

Some of the complete Cook and Eat cards, yum!

The cards asked cooks to jot down what they’re great at cooking and how far they wouldn’t mind travelling to share a meal and for diners they asked what they loved to eat and what they hated to eat as well as a bit of info on their dietary requirements. Loads of people shared their thoughts on the project and for those who wanted to sign up online as promised here are the links to the online forms.

To sign up as a Casserole Diner click through to this link and to sign up up as Casserole Cook it’s this link. We really quickly realised that loads of people mentioned that they would love to refer Casserole to someone that they knew and so we’ve made some little adjustments on the forms so that you can do that.

Signing up at the Casserole stall

We were overwhelmed by the amount of support from passersby and were thrilled to catch up with Sarah Finch Green Councillor for Redhill East who came to visit the stall and show support. The stall helped us to chat to people about what Casserole is and ways they can be involved but also helped us to get more of an insight into how the Casserole service could be developed and run in the future.

Cllr Sarah Finch visiting the Casserole stall

We are really excited to move forward into the trial period which should start next week (Monday 5th December), we already have three Diners signed up and by the looks of things they each have a couple of people interested in cooking quite close to them. Amazingly we even found that when flicking through the cards we had a “Diner” and a “Cook” who are essentially next door neighbours living on the same road. We had to double check we hadn’t made a mistake but true enough two people living next door to each (and don’t yet know each other) have signed up!

The trial is all about observing and learning as much as possible around how people found cooking, sharing, eating and organising around the service and rest assured we’ll be sharing our insights through the blog to let you know how it’s going so stay tuned!