Come Eat Together Programme

Come Eat Together – It’s all about good food and company!

Activity sheet March 2015From shopping clubs to stylish lunch clubs with a difference or afternoon tea in good company, our project has it! Click here for our current programme of regular activities.

Our activities are all designed with involvement from our members and we aim to reduce loneliness whilst enjoying good food in good company.

There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy our healthy eating course, cookery demonstrations or come along to a friendly session about how to grow fruit and vegetables on your windowsill or in your back yard.

Our session on how to shop online will give you the confidence to order food and goods online safely.

Come Eat Together won Best Health Project 2014 in the National Lottery Awards. Here you can see us receiving our award from John Torode of MasterChef

Please contact us on 0191 374 6577 for more information.

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Spring is in the Air – time to plant your fruit and veggies!

look what we've grownCome Eat Together is celebrating the start of spring in style with two ‘Grow to Eat’ sessions this week. We were in Lanchester on Tuesday and at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground on Thursday.

After their delicious lunch and a good natter in the comfortable dining room (which included chicken in creamy mushroom sauce with baby new potatoes, peas and carrots), over 40 diners at the Kings Head in Lanchester were keen to learn how to grow more tasty food that they could eat!

At our Grow To Eat sessions we always have a variety of seeds, seedling and young plants for people to pot up or take away. It is still early in the season but this week we were able to bring along a selection of  peppers, chillies, courgettes, spring onions and herbs. We also had seeds for strawberries and tomatoes.

grow to eat 4At both sessions, Come Eat Together members were treated to a talk from our knowledgeable volunteer Bala on how to grow your own fruit and vegetables easily. Bala (pictured far right)  has his own allotment and has many years of experience at growing all kinds of fruit, herbs and vegetables. He brings his tablet to show people photos from his allotment to show how easy it can be. He explained that vegetables and fruit can be grown indoors, that potatoes can be grown in washing up bowls and that if you’re growing them indoors you don’t need to put holes in the bottom as you can control how much water you use. There were plenty of questions about which varieties are easiest to grow and everyone told us that they had learned something new.

One member commented “An interesting talk from a very enthusiastic gardener” and another told us “I’ve never grown anything but now I will now have a go at pot-grown salads!”

Grow to eat CLS 2Our second session this week was hosted by Durham County Cricket Club at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground. The 14 members asked numerous questions and took home plants and seeds to have a go themselves with some of the plants Bala had talked about in the session.

One of the group commented, “I enjoyed the session and I will be planting the free plants, plus others”.  Another member of the group added “I will give some new food plants a go in the garden”.

More Grow to Eat sessions are planned throughout the County during the spring and summer – if you would like to attend one or you are interested in having a talk for your community group please contact the team on 0191 374 6577.

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Come Eat Together Practitioners Network launched

Ian and ChristineWe have formally launched the Come Eat Together Practitioners’ Network. This forum which will meet twice a year and will help us to share information, expertise and ideas to best support the organisations involved in providing the activities that bring people together with food. 

Our first meeting was held in Durham and was attended by representatives who provide transport, catering, venues and support.

The Network was launched by Harriet Gibbon, Chief Executive of Age UK County Durham who welcomed everyone. Sara Collins the Project Coordinator gave a presentation outlining the progress of the project to date and some of the future plans. Key highlights of the year include winning the National Lottery Award for Best Health Project 2014 and the award for Innovation in the Field of Community Learning from One Awards for our Healthy Eating for Older People course. One of our groups of learners also won highly commended Community Learning Group of the Year (there will be a blog about that shortly).  We are currently making some new films and we had a special screening of a new film about our shopping clubs which had everyone enthralled!

shopping on line tableThe Come Eat Together team set out some the resources used in our Healthy Eating Course and our shopping online sessions to give people a flavour of our learning activities.

A lively and enthusiastic discussion gave everyone the opportunity to share ideas about the project and explore how the network can benefit them. Dave and Susie from County Durham Police told us “We were thrilled to hear some very positive feedback about the benefits of PCSO’s attending some Come Eat Together activities. We now have details of some new sessions they can attend. We are encouraging the members of this network to tell us about positive feedback as it really motivates the police officers.”

Sheila from Bishop Auckland College told us “We are keen to do more with the project and I have enjoyed the meeting. I am going back to my colleagues with plenty of ideas about new opportunities to share!”

JOyce and SoniaJoyce (pictured left with Sonia) from Tanfield Lea Community Centre which has recently launched their lunch club told us “We love our new lunch club and we are looking forward to the Healthy Eating course starting in April. We are also working with you to arrange shopping online sessions. I’ve loved being able to sit and chat over a cuppa with Sonia from Nanas Ladles who provides the catering for our lunch club.”

Ian from Shildon Community Bus told us “I was delighted to see our minibus promoted in your film about the shopping clubs. I’ve been able to share information with members relating to community safety and working with communities”.

Our next meetings will be early summer and late autumn. We have been thrilled with the positive feedback from this meeting and look forward to our next meeting!


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New lunch club launched In Tanfield Lea Community Centre

Here at Come Eat Together we are celebrating the launch of a new lunch club.

The inaugural lunch at Tanfield Lea Community Centre, near Stanley was started on Wednesday (March 4) by Age UK County Durham development worker Stephanie Esteris working closely with the community centre volunteers.

Community Centre Secretary Joyce Lockey said: “The first lunch was a real success. We had 21 people attending with six meals delivered to the homes of those who were unable to come. The aim is to give those who are elderly the opportunity the chance to get a bit of company. We are going to arrange entertainment such as bingo and dominoes for future events.”

Joyce and her fellow volunteers are thrilled that the project is planning to put on a variety of courses at the community centre.

Lunch is provided by Sonya Curry of ‘Nanas Ladles’ in Sacriston.

The club will meet from 12.15pm to 2pm on Wednesdays every fortnight, with the next lunch arranged for March 18.

The next menu will include roast pork or beef and apple pie and custard. The price is £4.50 per person. Click here to see some photos from the event in the Northern Echo.

Anyone who is interested in joining the club should contact Alice Mearns on 01207 233 285 or Come Eat Together team on 0191 374 6564.


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Come Eat Together- Intergenerational Cookery Club

Bringing generations together with food

Cookery club 1Age UK County Durham’s Come Eat Together Team have worked with Woodhouse Close Community Church in Bishop Auckland to set up the Come Eat Together Intergenerational Cookery Club.

The Cookery Club, held every Monday morning, at Woodhouse Close Community Church has been a perfect opportunity for all members to learn new skills and share recipes, tips and advice across the generations.

Cookery club 4The cookery club began after Jean Clarke, Church community centre coordinator, received requests from the mother and toddler group for an activity where young mothers could learn to cook healthy two course meals on a budget. The Come Eat Together team was happy to help with the assistance of volunteer chef, Ian, who has shared his wealth of knowledge and skills.

As well as learning from Ian, members have shared new ideas and recipes as well as attempting the recipes, with great success, at home. The membership has grown over the months and now includes men and women of various ages and circumstances, working together to prepare a nutritious meal.

Cookery club 3Over the past three months members have mastered dishes such as Lasagne, Toad in the Hole, Corned Beef Pie, Mince and Dumplings and Chilli con Carne. As well as delicious desserts including Eves Pudding, Apple Crumble, Cheese Cake and Suet Puddings. After cooking, members sit down to enjoy the meal together, giving everyone a chance to discuss what they think of the meal, as well as future meal choices.

Before leaving for the afternoon everyone works together to clear away the dishes, wash the pots and clean up the kitchen.

Here is what the members have to say about the Cookery Club

“I might be old but I’m still learning. I learn something new every time I come. I like the company and especially sitting down to eat together afterwards.” Doreen

“I enjoy learning new recipes that I have never cooked before. I can now make Bechamel sauce and cheesecake. I have saved all the recipes and have gone home and cooked some them for myself and my four sons.  I thought it would be hard, but it’s a lot easier once you get started. I get to meet new people, learning new skills. It’s nice to sit together to eat and talk about planning new recipes. I always have a great time.”  Duncan

“‘I really enjoy coming every Monday and I have made the lasagne at home.” Janine

The Cookery Club has been beneficial for all members and everyone has worked together regardless of age and background. As the weeks have progressed members have grown in confidence and have shared stories about which recipes they have attempted at home.

The members are happy to gain independence and now take charge of the group independently. It has been agreed that members will now contribute a small donation each week to buy ingredients to make low budget meals.

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Come Eat Together at Christmas

Queens head 1We’ve had a busy festive season for Come Eat Together this year. Shopping, eating, cooking, talking and enjoying good food. Here are just a few highlights.

Christmas started early with the Come Eat Together Project with the Bishop Auckland and Shildon Shopping Clubs being very busy from the 2nd December. Everyone was stocking up on Christmas presents and treats and felt that, “the shopping club allowed them to buy extra luxuries, without worrying about getting home“.

Stanley Diners met up at the Ox Inn for a Christmas lunch and Betjeman Dining Circle had a visit from Mrs Santa Claus and a festive game of bingo.  Attendees to the Dine and Dance at Shildon Civic Centre enjoyed a lovely Turkey dinner followed by lots of live music from Graeme Scarlett and festive dancing.

Queens head 2Durham City was full of festive cheer with lunch and party games at the Gala Theatre and some older people went along to see the Pantomime, which was Aladdin (Oh no they didn’t!). The Queens Head lunch group welcomed new members to their Christmas Lunch. As well as the pub being decorated for Christmas, with stockings on the fire place and crackers on the tables, the local Sainsbury’s kindly donated some flowers to decorate the table.

The staff at Northumbrian Water restaurant joined in the fun in their staff restaurant, wearing Christmas jumpers and serving a two course Christmas Dinner. Framwellgate School Brass Band played lots of Christmas songs followed by a surprise visit from Santa.

Back at Age UK House the team held a Christmas volunteer celebration. The team gave an update on the progress of the project before challenging the group with a Christmas quiz.

A Merry Christmas from all the Team at Come Eat Together and we look forward to seeing you all in 2015!

Here are a few photos of our activities

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Bishop Auckland College back for a New Academic Year!

BA college E1Bishop Auckland College has once again opened its doors for the very popular lunch club in their Ambition Restaurant. Around 40 older people were welcomed into the college on Wednesday 22 October by students who are learning  Health and Social Care. They enjoyed a delicious two course meal freshly prepared and served by students learning Catering.

BA college E2On the menu this month was Chicken and Leek Pie with fresh vegetables, followed by Jam Roly Poly with custard. Everyone was thrilled with the food and the friendly service. The students who prepared the meals were happy to chat about the recipes with the older people once the dishes had been cleared away.


 Energy saving tips and information

It was Energy Saving Week and after the meal, Jason from Durham County Council gave an informative talk on saving energy and some practical suggestions on how to save money. He brought low energy light bulbs and information for people to take away.

Did you know?

  • You could save hundreds of pounds a year on your fuel bill by simply checking you’re not paying more than you have to for your energy. Check your tariff with your current supplier.
  • By switching energy suppliers, or joining an oil club, you could be saving hundreds on your fuel bill. Why pay more than you have to?
  • Insulate your home to cut down on wasted energy to reduce your fuel bills.

10 top tips

  1. If you have a timer on your central heating system, set the heating and hot water to come on only when required: 30 minutes before you get up in the morning and set it to switch off 30 minutes before you are due to leave.
  2. If you have a hot water tank, set the cylinder thermostat to either 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Cylinder thermostats are usually fitted between a quarter and a third of the way up the hot water cylinder.
  3. Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors.
  4. Always turn off the light when you leave a room.
  5. Don’t leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.
  6. When you are doing the washing try to fill up the machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher. One full load uses less energy than two half loads.
  7. Try and ensure that you only boil as much water as you need.
  8. A dripping hot water tap can waste enough energy in a single week to fill half a bath. Fix leaking taps and make sure they are fully turned off.
  9. Dry your clothes outside during nice weather so you don’t need to use your tumble drier.
  10. For details of gas and electricity tariffs for people aged 60 and over (or 50-59 if you are eligible to be registered for priority services) developed with E.ON contact Age UK County Durham Trading on 0191 374 0931

If you are an older person living in County Durham and worry about being able to afford your fuel bills contact our Information and Advice Team on 0191 374 6367

Next month Christmas comes early for our Bishop Auckland diners. They’ll be enjoying a Pantomime performed by the students on Wednesday 26 November 2014.

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Promoting Come Eat Together & Winter Warmth with Radio Teesdale

Winter wrapped upSara Collins the Project Coordinator for Come Eat Together teamed up with Linda Robinson the Age UK County Durham Development Worker for the Dales to spread the word about keeping warm and well in winter.

The two took part in a radiothon fundraising event held by Teesdale Radio last Friday 17 October. Sara talked about Come Eat Together and shared tips about keeping a well stocked food cupboard for emergencies. Linda shared tips and advice for older people about keeping warm in winter. She explained how she and the other Development Workers are distributing information and winter warmth packs across County Durham to get the key messages across to keep warm and active. Visit our recent post to download our leaflets and information.

If you would like more information please contact Age UK County Durham on 0191 374 6577 or email us on


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Afternoon Tea in Café Cenno at Durham Indoor Market

High tea 3There was lots of laughter, chat and smiles at the first Come Eat Together Afternoon Tea in Café Cenno at Durham Indoor Market last week. We all enjoyed the most delicious sandwiches, quiche, scones and cake before playing a fast paced and hilarious game of Beetle. Jonathan Miles from BBC Radio Newcastle also joined us for a bit of a chat and some cake.

Huge thanks to everyone who made the afternoon such a resounding success.  Afternoon Tea will take place at Café Cenno on the fourth Tuesday of every month from
2.00 – 3.30pm. Why not join us for the next one on Tuesday 28 October?

The Afternoon Tea costs £4 per person. Places are limited, and must be booked in advance. To reserve a place, please call us on 0191 374 6577 or email

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Keep Warm and Well this Winter with Age UK County Durham

winter wrappedEach winter one older person dies every seven minutes from the cold weather [i]. With this in mind, everyone here at Age UK County Durham wants to ensure older people are fully prepared for the winter months ahead. The cold poses some very real dangers for older people and winter can be a very difficult time, especially those who live alone or who are housebound, so we do all we can to help you prepare for the colder weather and get through it. 

Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s Clinical Director for Acute Care, said: “Every year in the NHS, we see a huge increase in numbers of emergency admissions to hospital over the colder months.  Those with existing chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or breathing problems are particularly vulnerable, and for frailer people, even the common cold can trigger a hospital stay. I urge people to stay warm and if you’re feeling unwell, to seek advice early rather than allowing problems to fester.  We want to avoid the traditional outbreak of stoicism – the desire to soldier on and not to ‘make a fuss’.  If you’re feeling under the weather, the local pharmacy and NHS 111 can help, and if the symptoms don’t go away, contact your GP.”

Keep Warm, Keep Well Campaign

KWKW leaflet coverAs part of our annual Keep Warm Keep Well campaign we are helping older people to understand just how much of a health risk the cold weather is and what they can do about it. We work in partnership across County Durham to help older people stay safe and well in winter and we have produced a handy leaflet full of practical top tips to stay warm this winter. Please click here to download the leaflet.

Here are some of our favourite top tips:

  • Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible. Eating regularly helps keep energy levels up during winter.
  • Keep your bedroom and main living room at 18° and 21°C (65° and 70°F) respectively. If you can’t heat all the rooms you use, heat the living room during the day and the bedroom before you go to sleep. Keep a check on room temperatures with a thermometer or the thermostat for your heating.
  • Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer) and even a hat indoors or in bed if it’s really cold as a lot of body heat is lost through your head.
  • Keep active – chair based exercises – moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes are helpful if walking is difficult.
  • Life can be more enjoyable with some company so join a group or take part in an activity that interests you. Contact the team at Come Eat Together on
    0191 374 6577 to find out about activities taking place in your area. If you can’t visit friends or family make sure you ring them regularly for a chat.

Keep Warm Keep Well events

Our staff and volunteers at Age UK County Durham are organising Keep Warm Keep Well events around the county to provide information and advice about the health risks of cold weather, as well as safety testing electric blankets. These events are the perfect opportunity for older people, and those who care about them, to come down and find out about what they can do to beat the cold and stay well, including how Age UK County Durham can help. Our Come Eat Together staff and volunteers will be bringing information with them to events over the winter months and are happy to chat with you about keeping warm and safe.

Watch our Facebook page and Twitter feed to see where these are. You can see these on the right hand side of this page.

Winter Wrapped Up guide

Winter wrapped upWe will be distributing copies of the Age UK guide  ‘Winter Wrapped Up’  which contains a free thermometer and provides additional information on staying warm in winter.

You can also call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65 to order a free copy of the guide   Alternatively click here to download a pdf version of the guide

Get a free flu jab if you are in a high risk group or aged 65+. Click here to download a copy of the Age UK Flu Prevention Leaflet .

How about holding a winter warming event to support our work?

Winter warmth fundraisingThis winter we are asking if people would like to organise a Winter Warmth coffee morning or fundraising event to support our work in tackling loneliness. Click here for a copy of the flier. If you are interested, please contact the Come Eat Together team on 0191 374 6577 or email them on and we will send you a fundraising pack full of ideas.


[i] Age UK estimate, using a ten-year average 2003/4 to 2012/13, from Excess Winter Mortality in England and Wales, ONS, November 2013.

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