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A happy baker. Photograph: Adam Cash

An East London bakery is helping women affected by issues such as homelessness, poverty, prostitution and domestic violence turn their lives around.

Trainees at the Luminary Bakery meet up three times a week at Husk Coffee in Limehouse, where they are taught to bake everything from cupcakes to loaves.

Luminary gives the women a route back into work through six-month traineeships that equip them with practical skills, and encourage them to be ambitious and entrepreneurial.

Alice Boyle, Luminary Baker founder, said: “We had a team of passionate bakers and a cafe on Brick Lane [Kahaila café] we could stock with products, so [baking] was a logical choice but also one that has therapeutic benefits – there’s nothing like taking your frustrations out on some dough!”

The 26-year-old explained that the programme opens doors to women who find themselves homeless, sexually exploited, a victim of domestic violence or have come out of prison. The project aims to break the cycle and help the women reach their full potential.

One trainee, Jordan May, 22, said: “I have recently found myself homeless and am currently in temporary accommodation. I was diagnosed with a brain tumour when I was eight and therefore have many day-to-day difficulties and take daily medication.”

She added: “I always look forward to Thursdays because I know it’s going to be a fun, motivational day where I can relax and do what I love – baking.”

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Flour power: A trainee at work.  Photograph: Adam Cash

Jordan believes her traineeship at Luminary has made her believe she can take up baking as a career and start her own business.

“I plan to get some professional help regarding my own bakery from the ladies at Luminary and hope to start planning for it soon”, she said.

Alice explains the charity is only able to fund one of four applicants: “Being a charity we are constantly in need of funding.

“We aim to be generous, providing free lunch and travel and allowing them to take the products they bake home – but ingredients and resources cost money.”

For Jordan, taking home baked goods can lead to family squabbles over who gets to eat them, but added: “I found the baking to be very relaxing and therapeutic for me and helps me to believe that I can do something well.”

The next tier on the Luminary Bakery cake is a new property in Stoke Newington, where the first year’s rent has been donated. This summer will see the team training double the amount of women – which hopefully will mean double the amount of delicious baked snacks.

To find out more about the project visit http://www.luminarybakery.com/

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