Birthday cakes baked with love by local volunteers
Did you know that a team of volunteers in Hackney works tirelessly to create fantastic birthday cakes for children who would otherwise go without?
Since launching in Hackney in October 2011, the Free Cakes for Kids team have baked over 220 birthday cakes for children whose carers, through a variety of financial and circumstantial reasons, would not have been able to provide one for them.
Local volunteer Tessa Lidstone explained: “It is heart-breaking to think of children being without cake on their birthdays so if we can help, we will. It’s especially nice if children receive their cake at school as they get an extra bit of fuss made of them.
“People often think that we’re a ‘professional’ operation with an office and an industrial kitchen somewhere, but in fact we are all just volunteers who pitch in because we had very happy childhoods or difficult childhoods and believe that all children have a right to feel special; or because we want to give back to our community in a more tangible way than a direct debit to a national charity; or because we just love baking and eating all the cakes ourselves would not be good.”
The Free Cakes for Kids initiative started in the States and reached the UK in 2008. The Hackney branch was set up 3 years later by Julia Bleet and Sophie Howes.
Tessa added: “We are fortunate enough to have had an immense amount of community support over the years. We have a great team of volunteer bakers who respond within minutes, if not seconds, to every email containing new cake requests that we send out. Local organisations working with children and families in the borough have been fantastic at sending referrals our way; and we have had very generous backing at a number of fundraisers we have held to enable us to keep going.
“At the end of last year we branched out a little and started running a few baking workshops for children and their parents and carers. We made a very simple and relatively cheap muffin recipe and gave each family a kit of all the baking equipment they would need to recreate the recipe at home. Many of the participants had never baked before and the feedback we received was fantastic, with many families going on to bake at home. We are hoping to run more workshops.
“When we fundraise we always say it’s for a future where no Hackney child has to go without a birthday cake. So many people are struggling with the cost of living crisis and when you’re trying to make sure everyone in your household has enough food just to survive, a birthday cake is the least of your worries. We aren’t solving huge social problems, but a cake on a child’s birthday can form lasting memories. Even if it only makes them feel special for a day or an hour, it’s worth it.”
To learn more about Free Cakes for Kids Hackney visit www.freecakesforkidshackney.com. If you work with children locally who could benefit from the service please get in touch – they welcome new referrals. You can also like them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Cakes-For-Kids-Hackney/502187546467760), follow them on Twitter (https://twitter.com/fcfkhackney) or donate via Local Giving (www.localgiving.com/freecakesforkidshackney).