Free Cakes for Kids Sheffield


Your story

Making home-made birthday cakes for children who may never have had one before due to poverty, homelessness or because they are estranged from their family.

Group introduction

At Free Cakes for Kids Sheffield, we bake birthday cakes for children aged 1-18 for many different reasons, including poverty and homelessness. Nearly 30,000 children in Sheffield live in poverty and we know that children are growing up in very difficult circumstances every day of the year. A birthday cake from us might be the first cake the child has ever had - it gives the family the opportunity to celebrate a birthday with friends and family, perhaps for the first time.

We work with many different charities, schools and social workers across the city who refer families to us for a cake. We’ve baked birthday cakes for children supported by food banks, their schools, the NHS, the NSPCC and Shelters. It's not always about a family not being able to afford cake - it might be because there is a sibling who has advanced needs, a family member unwell or absent, or because the family is in temporary accommodation like a B&B or refuge without access to a kitchen. Free Cakes for Kids Sheffield has fifty volunteers signed up to bake and deliver cakes as well as help raise money and awareness. Volunteers bake the cakes at home, paying for all the ingredients from their own pockets to ensure no child goes without a cake on their birthday. Many volunteers have fond memories of their own childhood cakes and hate the thought of a child growing up without similar memories. All our volunteers commit to very high standards of food safety and confidentiality.

We've baked over 100 cakes for children in the city and have bookings to make many more this year. We would also like to hold Parent and Child baking workshops later in 2014, where families will learn how to bake and take equipment and recipes away with them so they can have fun baking at home. Launched in September 2013, we adopted our Constitution in early 2014 and appointed a Steering Group. Local cake businesses Make or Bake and Oh Sugar provide us with invaluable publicity, discounts and advice. We make a difference, one cake at a time.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

Funding from Grassroots Giving would enable us to hold Parent and Child baking workshops in partnership with local refuges, children's centres and community groups.

Our volunteers come to us because they can't bear the thought of a child going without on their birthday. Most of our volunteers were taught to bake by their parents or grandparents and pass their skills down to the their own children. Those children who receive birthday cakes from us – those living in poverty – may not have ever baked or cooked anything with their families and we want to introduce the joy of baking to them, so they can experience the fun and develop their skills for years to come.

Our plan is to hold Parent and Child baking workshops, where families could come along for free and learn how to bake with their children. We would look at baking ‘healthier’ options to the usual cupcakes/fairy cakes - so perhaps something like banana muffins or mini carrot cakes to provide sweetness instead of lots of sugar. We could also look at gingerbread biscuits as we know kids like rolling and cutting.

While the cakes are baking, we'd give the parents a 'bake at home' kit and recipes so hopefully they will be encouraged to try out their new found skills with their children. This would include a laminated recipe card with step-by-step instructions for a couple of recipes, a mixing bowl, measuring cups & spoon set, a wooden spoon, muffin cases (reusable) and a small muffin tin.

This means a £500 grant from Grassroots Giving would enable us to hold seven three-hour sessions, benefitting up to 126 local children and adults, as well as giving volunteers a fantastic opportunity to share their skills. The skills the participants will pick up, along with the 'bake at home' kits will hopefully bring them hours of baking fun for years to come. The workshops would also enable us to reach more families who may be unable to provide a birthday cake for their own children, meaning our usual work of providing home-made birthday cakes could expand further within Sheffield.

"At Free Cakes for Kids Sheffield, our volunteers make home-made birthday cakes for disadvantaged children in our city. Our next venture is Parent and Child baking workshops- we want to give families the opportunity to learn new skills so, armed with a recipe book and new equipment, they can bake together at home."

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