Launched in May 2012, Independence Matters was a Design Challenge run in partnership with Innovate UK (formerly Technology Strategy Board) to develop services that promote independence in later life. One of seven inspiring start-ups funded through the challenge, Casserole is a peer-to-peer meal sharing service.
As we age, loneliness becomes a significant issue for many and raises the question of how to enable people to live well in their own homes while remaining connected to their community. Social isolation is also linked to malnutrition: some older adults struggle to cook for themselves – perhaps due to disability, limited mobility, illness, a short term problem like a broken leg or losing a partner who was the primary cook.
Many people cook at home regularly and are happy to cook an extra portion of food and deliver it to someone close by who needs it. Furthermore, lots of people are keen to volunteer in their local community but lack time and aren’t able to make the regular commitment that more traditional volunteering opportunities often require.
Developed by FutureGov in collaboration with Surrey County Council, Casserole is a peer-to-peer meal sharing service, helping neighbours share extra portions of homecooked food with those who might not always be able to cook for themselves. Casserole provides a new way for people to 'micro volunteer' as well as promotes connections between people of all ages in a local community.
Casserole allows diners to order meals. For those who aren’t on the internet, which is in fact most of the diners registered with Casserole, the service supports them over the phone, via text and also face to face.
Diners in need are connected with local home cooks who deliver fresh, homemade meals, served up with a bit of friendly neighbourliness. The service facilitates connections within communities and is a step towards developing relationships, promoting nutrition and reducing loneliness.
Shared dining experiences have been the fabric of communities since forever, and if we want to 'rebuild' communities, food seems like a good place to start.Katie, 30, cook
Over 4,100 cooks have signed up so far across the UK and over 600 meals have been shared, with 80% of diners over 80 years old. Casserole is now live in three boroughs and hopes to roll out in other areas across the UK.
In 2014, Casserole launched in Australia and was featured in Sainsbury's magazine and Red magazine.