Bread making for the benefit of mental health is coming to Leicester. Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust have teamed up with Planet Leicester Bakers, who have secured funding to kick start a new Leicester Bread Clubs initiative in the city.

Funded by Leicester City Council’s Time to Change Mental Health Initiative, these first Bread Clubs will train volunteers to bake bread and use this lovely activity to provide a relaxed, informal and safe space to enable people, some of whom will be mental health service users, to feel at ease to talk about their feelings.

Hand-making bread has been found by many community bakers to be a positive and relaxing activity. It is even used by some bread trainers in ‘breaditation’ mindfulness workshops.   

Rob Melling, Head of Community Development at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, is delighted to introduce bread making as an activity in their mental health services by setting up Leicester Bread Clubs with the help of their volunteers: “At the Trust we are always looking for new ways to help people improve their wellbeing – mental and physical. Leicester Bread Clubs will bring to people the opportunity to learn and use a baking skill in a way that helps others. Spending time in a safe space and a relaxed atmosphere will provide an opportunity for people to talk about how they are feeling. Not only that, our volunteers and those using our mental health services will get to grips with a baking skill they can use with their friends and families.”

Leicester City Council’s Time to Change campaign is funding Planet Leicester Bakers to train 12 NHS volunteers in basic bread making. At the same time the volunteers will be trained in undertaking conversations with people that encourage them to talk about their feelings. Planet Leicester Bakers will then support the volunteers in their first baking sessions with people who use the NHS Trust’s mental health services.

The vision is for the volunteers to continue to use and promote bread making as a therapeutic and supportive activity in the NHS and other community settings into the future.

Michelle Stratford, Founder of Planet Leicester Bakers, explaining the idea behind the unique Leicester Bread Clubs, said: “An informal Leicester Bread Club is something people can get going with others in their communities, with friends and families.

“If they come together with one or more people to do hobbies, sports or other social or health activities together, baking bread is something they can do as well because of the spare time in the bread making process. Walking groups, coffee morning gatherings, book clubs, film groups, online gaming groups – anyone can add bread making to their regular get together! It’s relaxing and great for de-stressing and is also a lovely way to get thinking about the food we eat and how we can find more time for cooking and enjoying real food”.

” If you would like to be trained as a volunteer on the new Time to Change,  Leicester Bread Clubs scheme, please contact: volunteering@leicspart.nhs.uk


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