Volunteer cake makers rise for needy children

Lesley Pert and Fiona Poulson are both volunteer bakers for the Free Cakes For Kids UK scheme. Picture: Jane Barlow

Lesley Pert and Fiona Poulson are both volunteer bakers for the Free Cakes For Kids UK scheme. Picture: Jane Barlow

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THEY are the philanthropists baking a difference to children in the Capital.

A group of volunteers is making birthday cakes to give to youngsters who would not get one on their special day.

The Edinburgh branch of Free Cakes for Kids was formed to help struggling parents, young carers and any other families who would otherwise have to do without.

Volunteer bakers buy the ingredients and bake it in their own kitchen before the cake is then delivered to the child’s family.

Founder Lesley Pert stepped into the breach after hearing about other groups in the UK and finding out there was no local network.

Since then, the team of 14 has baked more than 100 cakes – from Peppa Pig to games consoles – for deserving little-uns.

She said: “I saw it advertised and thought it was a really nice idea. I phoned to get details of an Edinburgh branch but they said there wasn’t one – and would you like to start it, so I did. Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength.

“We’re quite a big branch. We’ve got about 14 volunteers but lots more on the waiting list that have heard about us and want to volunteer.

“A lot of the people that help say they like making cakes and there’s a limit to how many you can make for yourself.”

The concept started in the United States and arrived in the UK five years ago and has since snowballed with about 80 groups nationwide.

Most of the referrals come from charitable organisations but hard-up families can apply for a cake by e-mailing the organisers online.

Lesley said they are working with 18 community organisations including Edinburgh Young Carers Project, prisoner charity Families Outside, Shakti Women’s Aid, for black and ethnic minority women, the Broomhouse Centre and dad’s groups.

Margaret Murphy, chief executive of Edinburgh Young Carers Project, said it was a “fantastic organisation.”

She said the women also regularly came in to show some of the young carers how to bake cup cakes.

“We hold a lot of respite sessions here and some of the “cake ladies” come in and have baking sessions with them.

“Their birthday cakes are brilliant. We just tell them what we want and they do all different designs, whatever the kids want. Then they deliver them to their home or wherever’s convenient for the family.

“It’s a fantastic resource and great what they do. When you see the faces of the young carers when they’re getting their cake, it’s magic.”

The youngest member of the baking group is Lesley’s goddaughter, 12-year-old Fiona Poulson, with students and a chairwoman of the sugar crafts guild also among members and there are many more waiting to join.

Lesley, from Newhaven, who works in accommodation services at Edinburgh University, said it was an affordable way to “make someone’s day.”

She said: “Some of the kids we deliver to will not have an awful lot so it’s a nice thing to do. They’re often thrilled just to have their name on it.”

Any organisations which would like to sign up should e-mail freecakesforkidsedinburgh@gmail.com