Work it Like Charity
It’s about time “meals on wheels” got a social media makeover. Casserole Club, the latest project from public service consultancy FutureGov aims to tackle social isolation through shared food. It’s a simple idea, beautifully executed – a free online service which invites members of the community to share extra portions of their home-cooked food with other local people who might be less able to cook for themselves.
According to a survey by the Social Care Institute for Excellence this year, 12% of the over 65s feel isolated, with befriending and social group schemes providing the best cure for loneliness, especially for house-bound individuals. Casserole not only bolsters neighbourhood relations, but also encourages more people to eat home-cooked food and minimise food waste.
Social media specialist FutureGov have already pioneered several successful projects focused on community-led design. Interactivism posed a series of Hack Weekends where participants were challenged to create web-based answers to social problems, like making the internet more accessible for older people; while TweetyHall provided a news-sharing resource to help members of the public find their local politician on Twitter.
There are no obligations attached to the scheme. Once you sign up, you can cook as little or as often as you like, simply uploading a description of the dish on offer, the number of portions available, and a photo if you have one. Subscribers are categorised by postcode, and a searchable map allows “Casserolers” to locate each other’s menus. Site regulars can create more permanent pair-ups, cooking for another member on a set day each week.
Currently operating on a small scale in Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, Casserole’s future success depends on communities further afield registering their interest. If charity really does start at home, we could be on the brink of a new dining phenomenon – the community-led takeaway.