Bake Off winner David Atherton returns to Better Health Bakery

PUBLISHED: 12:10 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:10 25 November 2019

David Atherton at Better Health Bakery.

David Atherton at Better Health Bakery.

Nikola Sariyski

Great British Bake Off winner David Atherton returned to Better Health Bakery in Haggerston on Saturday.

The bakery offers training placements to adults struggling with mental ill-health.The bakery offers training placements to adults struggling with mental ill-health.

He was excited to work a shift at the social enterprise where he used to volunteer and be re-acquainted with what he calls "the best sourdough in London".

Better Health Bakery is part of The Centre for Better Health - a Hackney-based mental health charity offering trainee placements to adults who've had trouble with employment because of mental ill-health.

"Lots of people want to volunteer here - it's a three month placement [but] I extended it and did a year because I loved it so much!" he said.

David was helping Better Health bakers prepare sourdough for the next day's bake - a lengthy process which takes about 18 hours.

David and Better Health bakers making sourdough.David and Better Health bakers making sourdough.

He told the Gazette why baking is therapeutic and how it can help improve people's mental health:

He added: "It's very creative. You do the same bake again and again but you can tweak it and try different things.

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There's a whole process and [It's] is quite meditative - in terms of kneading and shaping.

Better Health bakers prepare the dough.Better Health bakers prepare the dough.

"Also, I think having accomplished something - so starting with something that's just flour, water, yeast and salt and ending up with a beautiful loaf you can eat, enjoy and share with people.

"I think that really helps your state of mind."

David has volunteered all over the world as a nurse and now works as a health adviser for the development charity Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). He even says volunteering may have helped him win bake-off.

"A lot of people are home bakers so they're used to being in their kitchen alone - solitary baking.

David Atherton at Better Health Bakery.David Atherton at Better Health Bakery.

"[At the Better Health bakery] you're working with a team and talking the whole time while you're baking - that's really distracting for some people.

"Coming here and baking and chatting, passing things across and having people ask you to do things last second - and you doing things for them - like that's really good preparation for the show."

Better health also has a bike shop and bicycle recycling workshop providing similar trainee placements.

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