Those five hours where we couldn’t feel our toes

photo 1-2Oh what a glorious day it is today – blue sky; sun; a positively balmy 18 degrees.  Yeah.

Well cast your mind back to the middle of winter, quite literally, and the picture wasn’t quite so warm.  Were we tucked up under a blanket by a roaring fire?  Oh no.  We decided that we would prefer to spend five freezingly chilly hours under our pals the Empress‘ awning (thanks guys, love ya) touting cook books, cakes and our gorgeous FCFK Hackney wares at the Victoria Park Village Mid Winter Fair.  Let’s just say that we now know why Kat Slater sports fingerless gloves on her market stall when it’s winter on ‘stenders.

Even our ever-so-fetching tights AND socks combo couldn’t save our toes.

Buuut, do you know what?  It was fun.  Vicky Park certainly knows what community is all about and the atmosphere was great.  We sold out of cake, made a serious dint in ‘Cookbook Mountain,’ were nearly wiped out of teatowels and forced some rather chilly grown-ups to hang about getting rather more chilly while their children decorated gingerbread with us to take home and hang on their Christmas trees.  (They couldn’t complain though, we did have hot mulled cider if they wanted it!  Erm, yes please.)

And we raised well over 500 quid which we were pretty chuffed about, as well as generating new referrals and gaining some top new supporters.

Win, win, win.

And after we’d stomped home, even our toes lived to see another day.  Phew.

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How to turn a tenner into £20 without the help of Paul Daniels

Since we started baking birthday cakes for kids in Hackney who wouldn’t otherwise receive them, we’ve made quite a few friends. And not just people who like cake (although show us a person who doesn’t like cake and we’ll show you someone who has clearly not let chocolate Guinness cake with cream cheese icing into their life). Where were we…? Oh yes, friends. We are constantly blown away by the support we are offered from other people, businesses, groups and organisations both in Hackney and beyond. One such organisation that we now count as a friend is

FCFK - Laura's cake for LouSaying we’re friends with Localgiving is a bit like proclaiming undying love for an ever so generous bank manager. But it’s more than just a business transaction.

If you aren’t familiar with the organisation, Localgiving offers groups like ours an online fundraising platform, plus a load of personal support to go with it if you so wish. The cost to us is small and having an accessible, easy to use page on the web where anybody and everybody can donate to us whenever and wherever they wish is invaluable.

– Without it we would have to be doling out our bank account details to any potential donor.

– Without it we would have struggled to find a resource to fundraise for our Hackney half marathon and we certainly wouldn’t have had the lovely Lou give up cake for a month to raise money for us.

– And without it we wouldn’t have gained £290-worth of *free* money through match funding.

We love ’em so much we even bake them cakes … ! On the left is our lovely Laura (FCFK Hackney events supremo and super sew-er) presenting the lovely Localgiving Lou (of #nocakeAugust fame) with a bloody big cakey reward for going 31 days without even a crumb!

So, as you can imagine, we were super excited when we heard that there was going to be new round of match funding called Grow Your Tenner and we jumped at the chance to go along to the launch party. Put simply, Grow Your Tenner is awesome. Lovely people donate a tenner to us through our Localgiving site and that tenner miraculously turns into TWENTY WHOLE GREAT BRITISH POUNDS, thanks to a pot of money kindly set aside by the Government’s Cabinet Office. It’s amazing. We can do a lot with £10, but we can do double that “a lot” with twenty quid, like pay for our insurance, our DBS checks … print leaflets advertising our service to new referrers, oh, and keep baking, of course … the sky is the limit. Small organinsations make money go a looooooooong way. Believe us.

We also like Grow Your Tenner because it has this lovely flashy banner (which you might like to click on and have a go at turning a tenner of yours into £20 with no Paul Daniels or Debbie McGee in sight). Oooh, flashy banner. Click, click, click!

FCFK - moneyboxWhat we weren’t expecting when we rocked up to the Grow Your Tenner launch party was for Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society – who was there to officially welcome the new round of match funding – to pledge to raise money for us too. Yes, really!

He said he loved cake!

… and whilst he couldn’t go a whole month without it, he would happily give it up for a fortnight and donate the money he would ordinarily spend on cake in that fortnight to us instead.

Cue some rather large smiles from us.

We’ve sent him this rather snazzy little moneybox to help him on his way and will keep you posted with his progress in the endeavour that we have snappily named #nocakefortnight.

In the meantime, thank you if you’ve already donated to us through our Localgiving site. You rock. And we mean it when we say we couldn’t do without those tenners that you so generously donate (especially the magic ones that turn into twenties). Money doesn’t make the world go round; cake does. But money helps to make the cake that makes the world go round.

With a little help from our friends

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A whole month has passed since THE CAKE EVENT – our annual fundraising extravaganza – and still we are unable to wipe the grin off our face.  Hackney, we cannot begin to tell you just how perfect it was.  The sun shone, the crowds came, there was cake (obvs. – we’d have looked pretty silly if there hadn’t been), and beer (mmm), and people bought cookbooks and teatowels and raffle tickets, and played the best tombola in the world (Hackney Wicked WI, we salute you), and there were brilliant demos by brilliant chefs and and and and and … !  It was like a mini festival; Hackney at its finest; community with a capital C.

And, the real big AND… we raised an awful lot of money: over £2,300 to be precise.  Incredible; just incredible.

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We’ll let you into a little secret: we were nervous, so very nervous.  We thought that nobody would come, or maybe only us and a few mates.

We’d made dozens of gingerbread men (and women, or men in dresses) for children to ice and we envisaged having to take them home with us again, unsold, unloved, but they were gone almost faster than we could get the lids off the tubes of icing.  And the tables groaning with cookbooks groaned less and less by the second.  And slices and slices of cakes sold in double quick time as we struggled to replenish our counter top.

Oh my, it was a whirlwind, but so, so much fun.

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We have struggled to write this post because we barely knew where to begin; how to say thank you.  When we think of how the community came together to help us make the event possible – from donating cakes, cookbooks, raffle and tombola prizes to coming along to support us in person on the day – it makes us teary.  At the heart of Free Cakes for Kids Hackney there are just five individuals and we can’t get over what we were able to achieve with a little help from our friends.  We were left buzzing.  Knowing that we have a secure financial future and can expand our service, and potentially put on more community baking workshops, is simply fantastic.

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And so we come to the thank yous.  We have tried to include everyone, but, as it seemed like the whole of Hackney (and beyond) was rooting for us at one point or another, we have probably forgotten to thank someone and for that we apologise.  If we’ve missed you, we don’t mean to have.  Thank you from the bottom of our heart to everyone.  If we could, we’d come and give you big sloppy kisses!

Special thank yous go to:

Crate Brewery, in particular James, for lending us the space and putting on a great quiz.

Natalie Coleman, Elliott Lidstone and Hayley Edwards for keeping the crowds entertained with chef demos.

Debora, our lovely Debora, for amassing a cookbook mountain and presiding over a stall to put a bookshop to shame.  Cookbook thanks also go to Divertimenti (and their customers), Richard Ehrlich, India Knight, Jojo Tulloh, Persephone Books, Quadrille Publishing, Grub Street, Cico Books, Ryland Peters, 4th Estate, Bloomsbury Publishing and undoubtedly more …

Divertimenti (again), Victoria Yum Cake, Cakes4Fun (particularly the awesome SuperJess) and Deli Downstairs for professional cakes, plus many more beautiful people who contributed not-so-professional-but-equally-as-yummy cakes.

Hackney Wicked Women WI (especially Grace and her mum, and Lauren, and Cheeka) for putting on the tombola, guess the weight of the cake competition and pin the tail on the Easter bunny, AND for participating so enthusiastically in the beer-inspired cupcake competition (we will now forever think cake when we drink Guinness).  Tombola thanks and sloppy kisses go to A&S Cycles, Joe’s Tea Company, Hoxton Mini Press, Isle of Olive, Fabrications, Newton & Pott, Noble Fine Liquor, Dalston Cola, Fur Feathers and Tails, Little Gems, 90 Mainyard, The Lauriston, Love Jam Kitchen, Cheese Cellar, Aubin Cinema, and Murdock’s (each and every one of you has a community spirit that you should be proud of and we are hugely grateful).

The Empress, Young and Foodish,  “I Can’t Sing” the Musical, Divertimenti (again, again!), Mulberry and Cakes4Fun for raffle prizes. We wish we’d bought more raffle tickets because we had our eyes on each and every one of those prizes. Hello Mulberry purse!

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor of Hackney, for believing in what we do and coming along on a Sunday, without having to be invited. And that goes to every single person who joined us on the day because you saw our event posters (thanks if you displayed one) or our listings or endless tweets and came to splash the cash and support us.  You’re all stars. Thank you.

And before we get all Oscars-style emotional  on you and start weepily thanking our mums and hairdressers and telling you who we were dressed by (Matalan, actually, in case you were wondering!) we’ll finish up with a few of our favourite memories from the day: the people who came armed with Tupperware to cart cake off in and the woman who won the scooter in the tombola; we’ve never seen someone so happy, apart from maybe us when we cheers’ed over a pint of Crate’s finest IPA at the end of a day that will go down in history (Free Cakes for Kids Hackney history, but history all the same). Cheers to you, Hackney and here’s to us being one step closer to our dream of a future where no Hackney child has to go without a birthday cake.

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Go getcha Guardian

Read all about it! Read all about it!

We’ve only gone and got ourselves a double page spread in today’s Guardian! What are you doing still reading this? Why aren’t you rushing out to the shops to get your copy?


Impressed?! We are!

Naturally we are thrilled and delighted that Eve at the Guardian liked what we do enough to feature us (thank you, Eve) . And it was all the more special that the Guardian’s photographer, Michael, could join us for our first ever community baking workshop with kids (hi Michael! … have you recovered yet?!). And, of course, that the parents and staff at Morningside Children’s Centre were so accommodating.

We are funded completely by money we raise or that gets donated to us and run completely by volunteers, so budgets for publicity don’t exactly exist. It is therefore amazing that we’re able to spread the word about our organisation a little further than you, me and the next street post.

We are already lucky enough to have a fantastic brigade of bakers who respond to emails calling for cakes to be made faster than the speed of light, but it is important to us that more people who might need our service, or people working with those families, hear about us so that we can grow the work we do. And, even though it may not be the done thing to discuss money, donations are always, ALWAYS appreciated. If you go to our Local Giving site and give a tenner, not only do you make us very happy, but your money gets doubled, which is pretty cool. And the more money we get, the longer we can go on making sure that kids in Hackney who might not otherwise get them DO get cakes on their birthdays.

If you are only just hearing about us and have your heart set on becoming a baker then we don’t mind you joining our waiting list if you’re happy to, err, wait. Please be patient with us though. We have already been inundated with contacts since the Guardian went to press – and the twittersphere has gone a little crazy too. We will try to respond to everyone, but we are just five ordinary people with jobs and families and Christmas trees to put up, so we may not be as quick off the mark as you’d hope, but our cogs are definitely turning.

If you’re not a Hackney resident but are interested in what we do and would like to be involved, then why not check out the Free Cakes for Kids national site and see if there’s a group near you. If there isn’t, maybe you could set one up?

Right, we’re off to read the rest of our copy of the Guardian. We see that “grumpy” Ruby from Great British Bake Off is featured and we’re dying to know what she’s up to now!

Thanks for stopping by and being interested in little old us. We promise we’re not going to turn all diva-ish now we’re famous!

We heart Bishop Stopford’s School

How’s this for spreading the love…?  A little while ago we were contacted by a teacher at Bishop Stopford’s School in Enfield.  The Year 10 BTEC Business class there had heard about FCFK Hackney and wanted us to be their summer 2013 charity.

Without further ado the students set about organising and running a bake sale – including a particularly tricky jam doughnut challenge where you had to eat a doughnut without licking your lips.

The doughnut action was all worth it as they raised a fantastic £94.92 for us.  Thank you so much Bishop Stopford’s for spreading the cake love.  We can assure you that we’ll use your money to do the same.  Good cake karma is coming your way!