Students hit stove to help the elderly

Russell Hogarth and Meal Makers service user Norma

CAPITAL students are being encouraged to show off their skills in the kitchen by joining up with a charity initiative supporting elderly residents across the city.

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

As part of the initiative, kind-hearted 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.

They are now calling for young people from the capital’s burgeoning student population to lend a hand to those in need throughout the city.

Second-year social work student Russell Hogarth, 23, first joined the programme last year and has signed up again.

Russell, who is originally from Peebles, 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.”

He is now encouraging friends and fellow students to join up, adding: “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.”

He continued: “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, 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 for this project.”

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