Move over ‘Great British Bake Off,’ because ‘Baking Buddies’ in Belfast’s Lower Shankill is where the real baking talent is!
‘Baking Buddies’ is the latest activity for children and young families in the Lower Shankill area, and over a number of weeks, guided by videos shared on St Michael’s Parish Facebook page, children have been producing some real mouth-watering treats.
Earlier this week, the children and their families gathered in the parish hall for a socially distanced ‘Baking Buddies’ celebration.
The rector, the Rev Canon James Carson, explained the thinking behind this project, which has really captured the imagination of many would-be bakers.
“This has been a really good fun and learning project for the children taking part,” James said. “We needed something innovative to connect with our afterschool club families at home and ‘Baking Buddies’ has been a big success.”
The project has been funded by Belfast City Council and a donation from Tesco. St Michael’s worked in partnership with Karen Webb and Stephen Whitten, Church Army Evangelists based in Connect Base, Connor’s North Belfast Centre of Mission; Jill Hamilton, Connor Children’s Project Development Officer; Keeva Watson from ROC (Redeeming Our Communities) NI; and the local PSNI Neighbourhood Team.
The children really enjoyed the fun instructional videos made by Karen, Jill and a handful of helpful puppets which were shared on Facebook each week.
Every family taking part received a colourful baking box with all the equipment needed to make the food, and each week during September, the PSNI Neighbourhood Team delivered bags of ingredients for that week’s baking challenge to the children’s homes.
The children then followed the videos and recipe cards and made different buns or biscuits at home and sent in photos for publication.
At the ‘Baking Buddies Celebration’ in St Michael’s on September 28, the children enjoyed a quiz, a puppet sketch by Karen and Jill, and Stephen’s fun baking demo! They all received certificates and goodie bags.
One mum said: “The children have absolutely loved ‘Baking Buddies,’ they have learned to make different buns and biscuits and they even tasted lovely! It is great for them to feel connected and be involved in St Michael’s afterschool activities again.”
Another commented: “I have loved having so much one-to-one fun time with my son each week and we have learned to bake together.”
The team is now planning a ‘Baking Buddies Christmas Special’ which everyone is looking forward to.
James said: “Similar to our ‘activity pack’ project during lockdown, this partnership project has been church-led with the activity carried out at home and it has worked very well. Thank you to everyone involved!”