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March 21, 2018

More than a Mealtime: What We’ve Learned

More than a Mealtime was started by Crossgates and District Good Neighbours CIC and has since scaled up to exist in other parts of the city. People meet at a Shared Table in a local restaurant to eat together and form friendships, with everything being coordinated and hosted by a volunteer. 

Our local evaluator, Care Connect, took a deep dive into evidence to find out what’s been successful about the project and how it’s helped to reduce people’s social isolation. 

Here’s some key points of what they found: 

1. Many participants felt isolated because of some transition event in their life, such as a move or a bereavement, and not feeling a strong sense of support from the people around them. One participants said of their neighbour: “They never even said anything when my husband died.”

2. The intimate setting of 6-8 participants was more accessible for many people than a larger scale coffee morning or other activity. It was less intimidating to go along for the first time. 

3. Guests have gone on to become volunteer hosts, and this has given them a real sense of purpose. 

4. There have been unanticipated benefits such as the participating venues becoming more age friendly. 

Before I was involved in Shared Tables I didn’t feel valued and felt worthless…. (now) I feel good about introducing new people.” — Shared Tables volunteer 

Read and share the full report here.