Leicester baker aims to fix mental health issues one bread at a time

By Sophie Sandberg

Leicester baker, Michelle Stratford, this year started a unique baking initiative to improve mental health in the city, through bread baking.

Planet Leicester Bakers, founded by bread enthusiast Michelle Stratford, has started a new initiative under the name Leicester Bread Clubs to improve mental health in the city by teaching volunteers the art of bread making.

The scheme is funded and supported by Leicester City Council’s Time to Change campaign and teamed up with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust.

Rob Melling, Head of Community Development at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “At the [NHS] Trust we are always looking for new ways to help people improve their wellbeing – mental and physical.

“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.”



Photo: planetleicesterbakers.co.uk


Leicester City Council’s Time to Change campaign is funding the Leicester Bake Clubs initiative and aims to train 12 NHS volunteers in basic bread making so they can hold baking sessions with the public.

The vision is for bread baking to become a therapeutic and supportive activity in the NHS and other bodies in the community in the future.

Michelle Stratford 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.”


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MICHELLE STRATFORD: Imroving mental health one bread at a time


If you want to take part in the Leicester Bread Clubs scheme, contact volunteering@leicpart.nhs.uk.

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