Innovation in Action - Casserole
Who was involved?
Casserole was started by Murtaza Abidi and social innovation company FutureGov. The project started in collaboration with Surrey County Council who were the first partners in the programme.
The aim of the project is to support people within the communities who are unable to cook easily for themselves. The initiative also wanted to allow people to engage easily with their local communities in an attempt to bolster neighbourly relationships.
Everyone values their independence and being able to cook your own meals is an important part of maintaining that independence. Sometimes circumstances change and it might not be possible to prepare meal. The idea behind Casserole is for people to maintain a good diet and be able to eat the kind of food they wish by being matched to people in their local community who are happy to share a plate of home cooked food.
Murtaza also found that it was difficult to find volunteering opportunities easily that are nearby and an efficient use of time. Casserole aims to provide a simple process of being involved in something fun and community centred.
Casserole is based on the notion that it doesn't take much extra time to cook an extra portion of food and there could be someone within five minutes walk who would really appreciate the meal. It works by pairing these two people through a web app or other touch points such as text, the website and phone. The team found that it was important to allow for a number of service touch points so that people are able to engage with the initiative in a way that suits them; through this work they have also noticed that some of their older customers have become more familiar and confident with using the internet.
The initiative provides users who could range from first time mums to older adults with a lovely home cooked meal but also a friendly chat with a neighbour. The scheme provides an easy way for people to engage and give back to their local community whilst also learning and sharing new recipes and sharpening on their cooking skills.
Casserole has been received really positively. Individuals who could benefit from the scheme have been matched up with those nearby who can help them out and real relationships have been built within the community.
Elizabeth Murphy; a Casserole diner said "the volunteers feel that they are doing something worthwhile and we benefit from it. There are a lot of old people that can't go out and don't see anybody. I should think it'll be very good for them."
Pamela Harrison, a Casserole cook says; "it's more than just the actual meal. Its seeing somebody, and for them its feeling that somebody cares about them."
Casserole is part of the Independence Matters Home and Away Programme run by the Technology Strategy Board and the Design Council to encourage business-led innovation to help us all live independently for longer. This initiative is delivered through The Technology Strategy Board's Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP), which is responding to the needs of an ageing population - in essence promoting independence by making technology better, cheaper and more desirable.