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

The ‘Knead to Chat’ project, which uses the art of bread-making to help patients tackle mental health challenges, was announced as the winner of the Environment of Care Award at a virtual ceremony held by the Patient Experience Network on 14 September 2020.

Knead to Chat helps patients 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.

Alison Kirk, Head of Patient Experience and Involvement at LPT said:

“I was extremely honoured and proud to be able to present the work that Malcolm and his team of volunteers have been doing with us here at LPT.  This approach, which uses the Five Steps to Wellbeing, has evidenced the positive impact it has had both on our service users and our staff through the telling and exchanging of stories and the learning of new skills. In the words of Malcolm ‘I am not a baker, or a medical professional but I am going to tell you how baking bread can be good for your health’



  • Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) provides community health, mental health and learning disabilities services for the one million people living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We have a budget in excess of £275 million and employ approximately 5,500 staff. For more information visit: leicspart.nhs.uk. Our registered charity is called Raising Health (charity number 1057361). The charity fundraises to support excellent care initiatives, equipment and innovations which go above and beyond core NHS provision to enhance the experience of our patients, service users and staff. See www.raisinghealth.org.uk

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