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
  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 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.