Food Friends UK

Food Friends UK

At a glance

Causes

  • Health and well being / research and care
  • Local / community
  • Older people / later life

Other details

Organisation type: 
Charity
Geographical remit: 
Local

Objectives

Food Friends is a registered charity, working to combat isolation and loneliness in communities through food and friendship. We do this through our innovative meal sharing initiative that connects volunteers – who are willing to deliver an extra portion of their home cooked food – with a neighbour - who would benefit from a nutritious meal delivered with company and conversation. The project is intergenerational, encouraging the community to support one another with every delicious bite! We originated in Whitstable and are now operating across Canterbury, Herne Bay, Faversham and Ashford.

As well as supporting individuals who are lonely or isolated, our meal sharing initiative provides micro volunteering opportunities that are simple and uniquely rewarding, built on people’s love of food and its ability to connect those in a community who would otherwise never cross paths.  Our innovative initiative allows those with the busiest and demanding lives to COOK, SHARE and CARE. Volunteers span generations - our youngest volunteer is 18 and the eldest is 80.

Social isolation and loneliness are increasingly recognised as fundamental public health issues. Evidence of their negative effect on health is robust, and there is a need for more effective interventions to reduce isolation and its health consequences. Research suggests that the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 42% increase in 10 years. The need for volunteering opportunities that are flexible, whose purpose it is to strengthen social connections in communities, is acknowledged in the Government’s recent ‘Tackling Loneliness’ Report. However, there are too few organisations to meet this need – as far as we know, Food Friends is the only organisation in England combating loneliness and isolation through meal sharing.

Activities

Here at Food Friends we:

  • identify people in the community who are lonely or isolated, predominantly through our established network of referral pathways, including: GP’s, Social Prescribing, Social Services, Age UK, schools and food banks.
  • connect those referred to us with a volunteer cook from their local community to deliver a home cooked meal, along with company and conversation, typically on a weekly basis. Often, doorstep chats develop into conversations over a cup of tea, and in time meaningful, sustainable friendships develop.
  • identify the additional needs of Food Friends and facilitate access to relevant organisations and services such as: support groups, independence coordinators and food banks. 
  • ensure Food Friends are kept safe, referring concerns to social and health services when necessary.
  • support Food Friends to meet others in their community through holding social dining events.

To date we have matched 165 food friends with a volunteer cook, delivering over 9,000 portions of home cooked meals each one with kindness and care. We are an ambitious charity, with plans to roll out our meal sharing initiative across Kent. Over the next two years we plan to triple our reach.  

No current opportunities

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