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Kimberley Collins: Why I volunteer

Kimberley Collins moved to Hammersmith & Fulham in 2016 when she was at risk of becoming homeless. Through the pandemic she has been volunteering with Your Cakes, an initiative bringing sweet treats to care homes and key workers across London. She speaks to Lizzie Cernik about her inspiration for helping the community.

"I’ve been passionate about baking since I got my first job as a patisserie chef at the Savoy Hotel when I was 18. Growing up in foster care in Essex, baking gave me the opportunity to get away and build a brand new life for myself in London. It gave me the independence I had been craving. 

Over the years I’ve struggled with my mental health and been through difficult relationships. I almost became homeless in 2016 and it was a very difficult year for me. I was offered a council flat in White City and became actively involved with trying to improve my local community in Shepherds Bush. My bad experiences made me realise how much I wanted to give back, so I joined a local Catholic church which really helped my mental health. However, once lockdown happened my church closed and I couldn’t take part in my usual activities. Instead I began volunteering to support homeless people by delivering food to people in the city. I also launched my own Facebook page to collect basic necessities for those in need, such as toothbrushes, deodorant and other essential products.

But I still felt like I wanted to do more, and that my experience in baking and cooking could come in useful. I decided to start volunteering for Your Cakes, which is an initiative set up to deliver cakes and other sweet treats to key workers and care homes across London. I am now a team leader for the initiative and manage a team of 40 volunteer bakers across Hammersmith and White City. Working as a team we’ve delivered cakes to lots of different communities. As well as care homes and hospitals, we include all key workers. This week we’re celebrating the work of our wonderful local bin men and street cleaners, who’ve been keeping the borough looking pristine throughout the pandemic. 

I’ve met lots of new people through Your Cakes and I’m really happy that I have been able to support our community. Helping other people has also made me feel useful, which has been a huge boost to own my own mental health. If you love baking I would definitely encourage you to get involved."

About Your Cakes

Your Cakes was launched by Maud Feldmann, a Fulham-based digital engagement manager who runs regular macaron baking workshops. Her charity initiative now has seven branches across London. There are two based in our borough including Kimberley’s team in Hammersmith and Maud’s team, which covers Fulham and Chelsea. They will be looking for new ways to sustain the initiative after the pandemic. If you’d like to volunteer as a baker or offer your support, check out their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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