1:00pm Friday 11th May 2012
By Debbie Waite
A BIRTHDAY cake is something every child loves. But financial problems, illness or maybe a parent in hospital mean not all children get to enjoy the simple pleasure of blowing out the candles on their own cake.
But that’s where Free Cakes for Kids comes in.
Started in the USA and brought to Oxford by Henriette Lundgren in 2008, Free Cakes for Kids’ now has volunteers across the county, who use their love of baking to spread happiness – and plenty of jam and icing – to children in need.
Mrs Lundgren, 33, from St Clement’s, Oxford, said: “I read about Free Cakes for Kids groups in America back in 2008 and contacted the organiser in the States who said she was pleased for us to take it into Europe.
“Right away we started linking up with partners who would eventually refer families to us, visiting Citizens’ Advice bureaux, foodbanks, charities and community and children’s centres, and showing them what we were offering: free birthdays cakes for their children, with no strings attached. We now have Free Cakes for Kids groups in Oxford, Bicester, Wallingford, Abingdon and Banbury. And now the word has spread further – there are groups in more than 40 communities across the UK.”
Thanks to Free Cakes for Kids, children who might have missed out on a birthday cake are enjoying fabulous home-made ones, everything from Peppa Pig cakes, to giant Lego bricks.
Mrs Lundgren added: “Everybody likes cake, but birthday cakes are something special. Having an impressive cake made only for yourself makes you feel special and appreciated.
“But there is even more. Many groups have built close ties in their communities and have become integral parts of the social infrastructure.”
The success of Free Cakes is solely down to its volunteers, as Mrs Lundgren explained: “Here in Oxfordshire, we are 100 per cent volunteer led, with no paid staff, and the 25 people who bake for us, plus the other five who do admin and marketing, give up their time just because they want to. It’s a simple concept, but we believe there are many ways to make a difference and we are spreading a lot of happiness – one cake at a time.”
She said: “I absolutely love to bake and still make many of the recipes I grew up with in America.
“My four children are eight, 11, 13 and 15 now, and I still love to make them birthday cakes.
“Free Cakes for Kids means I can continue to do this for other children – it’s wonderful!”
Mum-of-three, Nicki Turner, 43, works as an administrator at Carterton Children’s Centre and has just joined the group.
She said:“I learned to bake from my grandmother and I grew up having fabulous birthday cakes she made, from hedgehogs to princess castles. I still remember the thrill.”
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