A groundbreaking mental health project, run by volunteers at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, has been shortlisted for a national patient experience award.

‘Knead to Chat’ uses the art of bread-making to help patients tackle mental health challenges, helping them to develop a social network to support and enrich their lives, and to give them time to reflect on what matters to them.

Malcolm Heaven, project lead, said:

“Through general conversation we encourage the sharing of stories, experiences, and challenges, and of course it’s also an opportunity to engage the senses – touch, smell, taste, vision and hearing. For some, baking bread is something new, for others, it’s rediscovering an enjoyable activity and using dormant skills. Either way, it’s a fun way to learn and build confidence, and home-baked bread is a wonderful gift to share with family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers.”

The Knead to Chat project is aimed at people who already have existing mental health challenges, and also people looking to bring a sense of wellbeing into their lives as a way of dealing with the stress and strains of living in todays modern world. From April 2018 to February 2020, 1000 loaves, rolls, pitta and pizza have been baked, encouraging 250 hours of conversation between almost 300 participants.

Feedback from one service user at the Bradgate Mental Health Unit was:

“This is the best I’ve felt since coming into the hospital. I’ve never tasted anything so good. It was definitely worth missing dinner for!”

The Knead to Chat project originated through a partnership bid between LPT and Planet Leicester Bakers for a small grant from the Leicester ‘Time to Change’ fund. The original funding was aimed at training local volunteers to be able to host bread making sessions in their community to bring people together to talk and make new connections. Malcolm attended one of the courses and was enthusiastic to grow the project, which has been very successful and reached lots of people.

The winner of the award will be announced at the Patient Experience Network Awards in Birmingham. Date yet to be announced.

For further information please contact: Kartik Bhalla, eCommunications Officer, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Tel: 0116 295 0994, Email: Kartik.Bhalla@leicspart.nhs.uk