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Scotland’s unique neighbourhood food project

THE PROBLEM of loneliness has been grabbing the headlines recently and while it remains a major social problem in Scotland, much is being done within communities to tackle the issue.

Scottish charity Meal Makers - a local neighbourhood food sharing project, is an excellent example. Using a simple but effective model, the charity works to break down some of the barriers that can lead to loneliness. The organisation has enlisted an army of volunteer home cooks to share an extra portion of home cooked food with an older person in the local community.

Launched in 2014 as a pilot project in Dundee, Meal Makers quickly proved to be a success and it wasn’t long before it expanded into Glasgow. That was followed by Perth and Kinross and in 2016 the latest groups to start sharing meals were set up in Edinburgh and Renfrewshire. It’s a growing success and Meal Makers hopes that the project will roll out across Scotland. The community based neighbourhood cooking concept is playing a key role in meeting the needs of Scotland’s elderly population.

Stuart Miller, Meal Makers Customer Development Officer said, “Meal Makers was established as a vital service to help older people live independently at home for longer, and to specifically combat malnutrition and loneliness. Malnourishment disproportionately affects as many as 1 in 10 old adults, a factor which seriously impacts their health and wellbeing. Social isolation is another health issue that has a dramatic, and disproportionate, impact on older people. There is an increasing understanding about the detrimental impact loneliness has, including links to depression, anxiety, declining mobility, high blood pressure and increased mortality rates. As people are living longer, and older adults continue to make up a bigger proportion of the population, these are problems we simply cannot ignore and we need to take action now. Meal Makers is proactively encouraging anyone who could spare the odd extra portion of home cooked food to help us by signing up to the project. Meal Makers is a brilliant way to pull communities together in the spirit of friendship and generosity. It is a really flexible volunteering opportunity and many people find it a very natural and easy thing to get involved with. It’s remarkable how a freshly prepared meal and a friendly chat can make a world of difference to an older person who may have difficulty accessing that kind of food. Some of the feedback we receive from our diners is truly heartwarming.”

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iScot Magazine February 2017