Last year, it was John Whaite who won over both the GBBO judges and the British public, and since lifting the trophy the 2012 champion has been working hard not just to create mouth-watering recipes, but also to promote baking as a means of escapism.
After the recent publication of his book – John Whaite Bakes – John opened up about a hidden battle with depression, which he has struggled with for some years. He has since revealed that he believes baking is “a form of pill-less Prozac”, and is now working as an ambassador for the campaign group Baking a Smile.
Since becoming ambassador, John has said he has been overwhelmed by the number of people contacting him to find out more about how baking can help with various mental health issues.
Bakeries dedicated to helping people who face a variety of different challenges are now popping up all over the UK. The Better Health Bakery in Haggerston, London for example, offers placements for adults living with mental health concerns. Another great initiative – the Bread Maker social enterprise – runs an Aberdeen-based apprenticeship scheme offering experience to adults with learning disabilities, while the Dough Devils co-operative bakery in Manchester is run by a group of ex-offenders.
In Somerset, Paul Youd puts on bread-making classes for victims of domestic abuse and parents and kids in homeless shelters, while in Yeatman Hospital, Dorset, the community mental health team runs a baking group for elderly dementia patients.
The Real Bread Campaign, which was established to revive real bread baking in local communities, received a four-year grant in 2009 from the Big Lottery’s Local Food programme and has seen first hand the social and therapeutic benefits that baking has had on so many individuals and communities.
To find out what’s going on in your local area, visit the Real Bread Campaign website for further information.