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.

New Features!

Casserole launched in Beta at the end of May with our very first version of a full site. We have had some brilliant feedback from members so far, and are back with a few tweaks, changes and shiny new features to take Casserole to the next level of development. So without further ado, here are a few new things you will spot across the site:

About Page: In light of clarifying our message and how Casserole as a service works, we’ve revamped our About page to you a more thorough look at what Casserole is, where it came from, and how to use it best for you.

Neighbours: In our feedback, a few people mentioned how they would really like to be able to see what’s happening with Casserole, even if its not in their area – well now you can! You will notice in the there is a new section on your toolbar called Neighbours. With Neighbours you can see more easily what members are in your own area (and if you click on the Casserole icons, you can see a preview of their profiles), but you can also zoom out to see what’s happening with Casserole in areas both near and far!

Edit Profile: Huzzah! While before we had a bit of a clunky system where any changes to your profile needed to be made by us, you are now fully capable of managing your information yourself! Want to change your picture or fix your misspelt road name, not a problem.

Prices: When we launched the Beta site, we added in a function that gave cooks the option to charge a small amount for the meal they were sharing – this was met with some confusion and resistance from the Casserole community. By adding money into the mix, it seemed to muddle up our message a bit, which is the last thing we wanted to do. So, from now on, ad hoc meals shared on the site will be served up for free. For those people who decide to Pair Up (read the next section to hear more about that!), you will still have the option to charge, but for general meals shared openly on the site, those will be free across the board from now on.

Pair Up: This is a special new scheme set within Casserole for those of you looking for a more long-term, regular pairing with someone in your community. While the site is great for meals you want to offer up to the whole community, we learned through feedback that that’s not an ideal situation if you are cooking regularly for one particular person.

So, we’d like to introduce you to Pair Up – a scheme that matches a local cook and local diner and helps support a regular meal sharing arrangement between the two. These could either be a pair who met through an ad hoc meal on Casserole who wish to start sharing on a regular basis, or new Casserole members who would rather be matched with someone from the get go. Once a match is made, we will help you sort out a rough meal schedule (whether that is on a weekly or fortnightly basis), as well as whether you wish any money to be exchanged for meals (usually in the form of contributing to ingredients). After everything is set, we will send you gentle reminders before a meal is meant to be served, and ask you to let us know what you’ve cooked (more on why we want to know what you’ve cooked in the next section).

Part of the reason for Pair Up is to make sure Casserole can be used in a way that best suits you – whether its for an occasional meal or a regular schedule.

Plates: Every meal a cook serves through Casserole is a small action that can make a big difference in a diner’s life – and we want to make sure we track and celebrate those actions with what we like to call plates. For every meal you share, you will get a “plate” – this serves two purposes – 1) it helps us keep track of all the meals being served through Casserole to help measure social impact and growth and 2) it helps you mark some brilliant milestones in your involvement in Casserole. For every milestone (5, 25, 50, 75, and 100 plates – for now) you hit, Casserole will give you a celebratory token of appreciation (we’ll share more details on what those will be soon!) for being an active member of the community.

There you have it – a little tour of the shiny new things you will spot on the Casserole site today. As always, please let us know your thoughts – what you like and what you don’t – so we can keep improving Casserole.

Happy Cooking!