I've wanted to do a piece on the Depressed Cake Shop for a while, so it was great to get the opportunity to interview Charley - one of the people directly supporting this movement with a Depressed Cake Shop in Brighton. Before you ask, no, this isn't about a cake shop that's suffering from mental health issues, but rather an innovative, grassroots, pop-up movement sweeping the globe from the US and UK, to India, Canada and more. Its goal is to tackle mental health by targeting people's sweet tooths - awareness raising and charitable fundraising through the sale of cakes. But I'll let Charley tell you more about the movement below. Charley's shop is doing its first run on 16th November in Brighton and you can check out www.depressedcakeshop.com to find out when your next local DCS pop-up is happening.
Hey Charley! Tell us what the Depressed Cake Shop's all about.
The Depressed Cake Shop was a concept started by Miss Cakehead - pop up shops, organised locally, selling grey cakes and giving their proceeds to charity. 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from mental ill health at some point in their lives and yet it is still such a taboo subject. It seems to be something that people are on the one side scared of finding out about and on the other side have a real fear of being judged for. The idea of the DCS is to help break down those barriers and give a safe platform from which to discuss these matters - cake! So on one side, the DCS is about raising awareness and breaking down barriers, but I think it is worth noting that there is also another side to this. Many of the people involved have been affected by mental illness and many use baking as way of helping to manage this and find joy in their lives (because lets be honest, when is cake a bad thing!?) and the DCS is also about supporting them and giving them a space to display their creations.
Depressed Cake Shops have been popping up in loads of places (literally, as most of them are pop-up shops) since the idea first came about. What made you want to take part in the movement?
Baking has always been a part of my life. Some of the first memories I have are of baking bread and cupcakes with my grandparents and the immense sense of satisfaction that came from sitting down together to enjoy something marvellous that you have created with your own hands. When I first heard about the DCS it was something that really resonated with me. To be perfectly candid I have suffered from depression and anxiety for a number of years and have first hand experience of other people's mental ill health. I remember when I was first diagnosed with any mental health issues and I was pretty much embarrassed to tell anybody. Even now, having suffered for a number of years and built a wonderful group of friends around me who really understand, I still struggle to talk to my friends when I am having bad days. Quite simply, nobody wants to seem crazy. That's why I think things like the DCS are so important. You wouldn't be embarrassed to ask a friend to get something off a high shelf for you if your leg was broken, so why it is then embarrassing to ask for a cuddle or a shoulder to cry on when your head is a bit blue? It is through platforms like the DCS that we can start to break down those barriers, build understanding and support those who need it without fear of judgement.
How do you feel baking is linked to mental health?
As I mentioned before, many of the bakers involved use baking as a way of managing their condition. It has long been acknowledged that creative outlets can massively help people to work through mental health issues and baking is no different. To not just be productive but to then create something out of that time which you and other people can enjoy is a wonderful and fulfilling thing. Aspirations and dreams can be stripped away from you through mental illness and bringing joy back in small ways is the first step to getting better. I also find baking amazing - it is like creating something out of nothing!
You're aiming to do your first pop-up on 16th November - any clues as to what cakes we'll be seeing on the day?
The bakes will all be thematically linked to mental illness, either through colour or design. I think its important to not get too bogged down in the seriousness of it all so expect some tongue in cheek names like 'not so jammy dodgers' and 'when life hands you lemon drizzle cake'. Other than that, you'll have to come and see!
The proceeds from Depressed Cake Shops go to charity - which charities have you chosen and why?
We've chosen the charities Mind and Right Here. Mind does phenomenal work and have incredible links to national and local schemes. Right Here promote mental and emotional wellbeing for young people aged 16-25 in Brighton. I think in Brighton young people are particularly at risk, with many having moved away from home and unsure of how to get any help. The work that Right Here do is crucial to giving support and advice.
What's the future of the Depressed Cakes Shop movement and what do you hope it will achieve?
Ideally the Depressed Cake Shop will continue to run pop ups to provide a platform for discussion and education. In the future we'd like to run baking workshops and there are plans to set up a charity in order to help those who would like to use their baking skills to set up a business.
Finally, what's your absolute favourite cake/pastry/baked goody?
Ooooh, now that is a toughie. For me I think it has to be a fairy cake straight from the oven (well, maybe 5 minutes after). It was the first thing I learnt to bake and evokes happy memories of my grandmother's kitchen. Plus, they are ready from scratch in 25 minutes!
A big thanks to Charley for taking the time to speak to us about the Depressed Cake Shop. If you're in Brighton then visit her shop on 16th November. If not, consider starting your own! Find out how you can get involved.