Yesterday, we brought together a little meeting of the minds – a mix which included community leaders, a day centre manager, a Casserole Cook and a cluster of people interested in starting up Casserole in their area (coming from as near as London and as far as Glasgow and Swansea), and the Casserole team, to discuss what should go into our currently-being-designed Casserole DIY Starter Kit.
While the workshop had been in the diary for a while, it could not have happened at a better time, as ever since The Times article came out last week, more and more people have been approaching us, asking how they can get Casserole up and running near them! The energy and passion people have shown for kickstarting Casserole has been astounding, so we want to make sure we develop something that will support people in the best way possible to make that happen.
With trays of sandwiches set and a bowl of clementines in the corner (no Casserole event is complete without food!), we were ready to start. After a quick run through of the story of Casserole, Murtz talked to the group about a lot of the lessons, from the difficulty of finding Diners, to the importance of a community manager that we’ve picked up over the last year, and how we hope this toolkit will help people navigate some of the hurdles that we’ve encountered in the past.
Once we’d gotten all our learning off our chests, we got stuck into what everyone was really there for – the Casserole Starter Kit (name still up for improvement…). We wanted to know what people thought they might need in the kit, who should get one, what support structures need to be in place, what problems people expect might crop up, etc… easy right?
The conversation that followed offered some really great feedback for us – some things reaffirming what we’d already thought, as well as plenty of new ideas that hadn’t crossed our minds. While conversations initially started with tangible things that should be in the pack (posters, flyers, magnets, ect…) we soon moved the conversation into the more strategic side of things – just HOW people will go about starting Casserole. Lots of ideas buzzed around, so to help keep things organised, here are a few of the top trends –
- Who gets a Casserole kit – This kit is designed for people who want to lead the way for Casserole in their local area – getting any project started is no easy task, and it will take some time and elbow grease to get things up and running. With this in mind, we all agreed that these kits will be given to people who are committed and willing to get stuck in – think in a similar way that Jamie Oliver’ Food Revolution’s campaign toolkits work. We are looking to outline different types of roles within this as well, depending on how much time people might be able or willing to contribute to getting things going.
- Language and Tone – Murtz and I have had about a year’s worth of experience talking to different types of people and organisations, from local government to people out and about on the street. Along the way, we’ve learned how to talk about Casserole to these different groups and how to answer the tougher questions (particularly around things like security and health and safety). We’ve found that the key to all of this is having clean and simple language clearly describing what Casserole is and how it works. To help people who want to talk about Casserole and help spread the word we’re working on putting all of our experience into a clean and simple guide – “Talking about Casserole” – so it’s easy to get across the message and ethos of the service, whether you’re talking to a parent school group, a day centre or meeting with people from the local council.
- Support Networks – Going it alone is never easy, and while the Casserole team will always be around to answer questions and help people as best we can, it is important that people feel they are part of a network they can call upon if they need it. Some thoughts revolved around having regional forums where people leading Casserole in towns and smaller areas can stay in touch and share lessons, experience, and contacts to help support one another. On a ultra-local level, there were discussions around whether or not someone leading an area should need to put together a team that’s willing to help out before they get started.
- FAQ – You can get asked some pretty random questions when you are presenting a new service to people, and once again, after a year of talking to people, we’ve slowly built up a roster of answers to questions across the spectrum from what do people serve their meals on to why we don’t do CRB checks.
- The Casserole Story – Casserole has a pretty cool story. It has an ethos that is so engrained in how communities work, and it’s one that nearly everyone can relate to and connect with almost immediately. The anecdotes and stories of our members exemplifies this and puts human faces to the service, and makes it that much easier for people to understand.
It was so useful for us to hear from people actually looking to use this toolkit, hear the questions they had and where the gaps where in what we’d original proposed for the kit. And having the voice of someone currently in the service, in the form of Maggie, one of our main Cooks, was absolutely brilliant and insightful. We have to give a huge thanks to everyone who came along to the workshop, from near and (very!) far, and for taking the time to let us pick their brains for a bit. The next step for us is to take all of these ideas forward, and create something useful. Our hope is to have a prototype of the kit ready for people to try out in the next few weeks so that we can start getting some feedback on what’s missing, what needs improving, and what works well.
If you are someone who is interested in receiving a kit, drop us an email at hello [at] casseroleclub.com and we’ll put you on the list!