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Making Meals, Making Friends

The Meal Makers project is helping tackle social isolation among the elderly

As freshers' week gets underway in Edinburgh, budding MasterChef students in the capital are being urged to team up with a charity that supports the elderly.

The Meal Makers project, which is supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery, aims to tackle social isolation and malnutrition experienced among the elderly population.

Volunteers are asked to package up a portion of their home cooked meal and deliver it to an elderly person who lives nearby.

The charity, which runs its project in 19 out of 32 local authority areas in Scotland, already has around 100 student volunteers, but it wants to attract more young people who have a flair for food.

Russell from Peebles, a second-year social work student in Edinburgh, joined Meal Makers last year and has signed up again.

He said, "I originally saw a Meal Makers poster in my GP's office and I thought it was a brilliant idea. So shortly after that I went on the charity's website and applied.

"As a social work student, I know social isolation is a big issue particularly among the elderly population, so for me Meal Makers is a great way to tackle this and I enjoy being a part of it. It's great that players of People's Postcode Lottery are supporting this."

Russell is encouraging his peers to join up. He added, "It's a great way to get involved in your local community and to get to know someone you wouldn't meet in your normal student life.

"I started cooking quite traditional meals for a lady who lived near me, things like mince and potatoes, soup, and roast dinners, but as we got to know each other we'd venture into different meals like curries and it was always appreciated."

Emma Black, Project Manager for Meal Makers, is glad of the support from players. She said, "Real friendships are formed thanks to this project, which brings together different generations who love to cook and share food. Older people who are experiencing social isolation appreciate receiving a freshly prepared meal and a friendly chat. Volunteers tell us that they often cook more than they need and they're delighted to share their food with an elderly neighbour."

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery, added, "This is a fantastic initiative that brings together elderly people and volunteers in the local community. Sharing a hot meal and a chat is a great way to reduce loneliness and social isolation, which can be experienced by people of all ages. I'm pleased that players of People's Postcode Lottery are able to support Meal Makers and we hope more people volunteer their time and skills for this project."

Anyone interested can sign up online, complete the food hygiene quiz, and undergo a PVG background check. Diners are referred by local recruiters or sign up directly themselves.

For more information about the charity, please visit the Meal Makers website.

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Meal Makers volunteers take a portion of their home cooked meals to elderly people who live nearby
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