The People's Friend
Gilly Pickup is inspired by the Luminary Bakery
Gilly Pickup is inspired by a special project in London that’s helping disadvantaged women and healing lives.
LUMINARY BAKERY is a social enterprise providing training, employment and a sense of community to some of London’s most disadvantaged women.
It has transformed lives affected by poverty, homelessness, domestic violence and human trafficking.
The initiative gained the support of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, long an outspoken advocate for women.
In 2019 she made a surprise visit to Luminary, and while there listened to the women’s stories while encouraging them to open up about their struggles.
“It’s a space for baking, healing and rebuilding,” she noted.
The initiative, based in the boroughs of Camden and Hackney, assists these women to get back on their feet by helping them carve out careers as bakers.
Initially students come to
Luminary for six months, and as well as learning to bake to a professional standard, they’re taught food hygiene and life skills including communication, character development and managing emotions.
Besides enabling the women to gain confidence in their own abilities in a safe space, it also allows them to build a strong network.
“Before I came to Luminary my life had fallen apart,” one Luminary graduate explains.
“I struggled in a world where my voice was unheard and my identity had been stripped from me.
“Since the course, I have regained my confidence, gained life skills and am on a path to reach my goal of independence.
“Luminary has given me so many opportunities, I honestly don’t know where I would be without them.”
“Luminary is more than a bakery; it is a community and a sign of hope for so many,” Founder and CEO Alice Williams says.
She explains that the catalyst for starting Luminary was when she met local women experiencing extreme poverty, disadvantage and violence.
“A small group of us began working to create opportunities for these women to earn an income and change the trajectory of their lives.
“Women are referred to us through local services such as refuges, shelters and anti-trafficking organisations.
“We have a number of referral criteria to ensure trainees are able to commit to the programme.
“We now have two locations in London, and are keen to expand further to ensure that every woman who needs it has a chance to thrive.”
Luminary has been a godsend to many, including Jasmine (not her real name), who was referred to Luminary while living in a women’s refuge, having been in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage.
“I believed I was a failure. Luminary was the first time I had experienced freedom and respect,” she says.
Jasmine discovered that she had an aptitude for baking, and through holistic development sessions started to consider for the first time who she was and what she wanted to be.
She sums up her life transformation.
“Now I will live as an independent woman with love, respect and freedom.”
Last year the bakery released its first cookbook, “Rising Hope”, which features recipes and stories from graduates of Luminary’s programmes.
This collaborative project enabled women to contribute stories of how they overcame their own traumas, along with their favourite recipes for you to try. ■
To find out more, visit Luminary Bakery’s website at luminarybakery.com.