5 lessons from a charity novice

Lucy Butt

It’s been seven years since Hollin and I sat down together to share a common vision in the corner of a quiet coffee shop and as a result, Bramber Bakehouse was born. 

I’m a firm believer that every single person on this earth has a purpose and a God-given gift. If you’re thinking about starting something new, from bakeries to churches to community football teams, here’s five things we’ve learnt since our journey begun. 

Stick to your guns, but advice is good sometimes too.

In the early days, we spent hours talking to anyone who would listen to our idea – we were going to fight back against human trafficking, offering support and training to vulnerable women who’d fallen victim to this injustice. We had one problem – we had no experience. 

We surrounded ourselves with experienced individuals who taught us about human trafficking, charity work and what to be prepared for. It was an invaluable time and we had some really useful conversations.  But when you’ve got lots of voices, it’s easy to get sidetracked and deviate from the vision. God very clearly told us what we needed to do. If he’s told you too – write it down, put it on your wall, take advice but don’t be afraid to say no thank you too. It’s OK to stick to your guns.

People love to buy with a purpose.

At Bramber Bakehouse, everything we bake is sold to fund future workshops. People love cake and when they know they’re contributing to something greater, they love it even more. If you can find clever ways for people to invest in your vision, you’re onto a good thing. 

Don’t give up. What’s meant to be will be.

We’ve had our fair share of obstacles from charity application refusal, to broken ovens, to cancelled trains but God has always been faithful and I’ve never doubted he will always make a way for his plans to come to fruition.  

Surround yourself with a great team.

We started as a group of friends who shared a common interest and a variety of different skills. Over the years we’ve grown from a volunteer team of five to 14 incredibly gifted individuals who’ve helped take Bramber Bakehouse from strength to strength. They are our biggest asset and this year, they were recognised when we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2020. If you want to succeed, surround yourself with a great team. 

Always give thanks.

Seven years later and we could have never dreamed Bramber Bakehouse would be where it is today. We’ve seen five successful cohorts, 18 graduates, 50+ applications, 14 volunteers, one national award, a partnership with Waitrose and over £50,000 of donations. 

The next 12-18 months will be our most challenging and exciting yet. We’re preparing to meet a growing demand for our programme by raising £44,600. This money will enable us to employ two members of staff, move to larger premises and accommodate up to 90 women by 2023.  

Visit bramberbakehouse.co.uk to find out more about us and ways you can get involved.