Bake Off winner David Atherton returns to Better Health Bakery
- Credit: Nikola Sariyski
Great British Bake Off winner David Atherton returned to Better Health Bakery in Haggerston on Saturday.
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.
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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.
"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.
"[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.
To find out more visit centreforbetterhealth.org.uk/