The power of cake

Imagine for a moment a new cafe is opening in your neighbourhood. Imagine almond croissants, flat whites and unlimited wifi – you’re probably more likely to be excited about good coffee than anxious about whether you’re welcome. But for many of our older neighbours, these places can feel alien and another example of a neighbourhood they no longer feel part of. 

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That’s why cafes as welcoming as the Peckham Pelican are so important. They host spoken word, supper clubs and music, and for the past year, they've also hosted a monthly Brunch Club as part of South London Cares' social clubs programme. These brunches have opened up a side of the ever-changing Peckham that might previously have felt intimidating. For almost a year, Tony, Susan and their Peckham neighbours have had a place to make friends and catch up over coffee and carrot cake, and get to know some of the young professionals they live side by side with but ordinarily wouldn’t interact with.

It’s given older neighbours like Maureen, 66, a place where she can meet her younger neighbours and create long-lasting friendships. She met Anna at the Peckham Pelican, and each month they look forward to sharing each other’s cultures, trading tales of Jamaica and Ukraine, and their different experiences of moving to London. To Maureen, “it’s meeting new people, especially young people, which is so nice about coming here.

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Sharing a meal can be something we take for granted, but when our volunteers move to London – away from friends and family – they often experience eating on their own for the first time. Meanwhile, for many of our older neighbours eating alone is an everyday experience.  The seemingly small act of having a slice of cake together at our Brunch Club can make people of all ages feel less isolated and a more  vibrant, valued and visible member of the community.

Brunch Club wouldn’t be possible without the kindness, creativity and energy of our volunteer network: running marathons, walking 100km, and of course holding bake sales. So why don’t you channel the power of cake in the community and hold a bake sale at work to raise money for social clubs that are so vital for our older neighbours? You could even give Maureen’s Jamaican fruit cake a go!

Maureen's Fruit Cake


  • 360 grams flour
  • 600 grams brown sugar
  • 500 grams butter
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 dozen eggs.
  • 110 grams mixed dried fruits, soaked in brandy/wine/rum at least overnight. (Although Maureen says the best cakes have fruit soaked for two years!)
  • 110 grams raisins
  • 2 tbsp. rum
  • 125 ml wine
  • 125 ml molasses
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. mixed spice


  1. Cream the butter and the sugar
  2. Beat the eggs thoroughly...
  3. Add to the creamed butter and sugar
  4. Add flour 1 cup at a time (sift flour)
  5. Add baking powder and salt
  6. Stir in the  fruits, mixed spice, vanilla, rum, wine and molasses until you get a smooth paste
  7. Bake 350 degrees
  8. Enjoy!

Big thanks to Stu, Emily & everyone at The Peckham Pelican for hosting their neighbours for a community cuppa each month.

Morgan Burley

Posted by Morgan Burley on Thursday 23rd March 2017

Along with Charlie, Morgan designs and delivers social Social Clubs across Southwark and Lambeth. Previously he worked as an IT engineer and was a volunteer at a Westminster charity which provided support for vulnerable families in the borough.

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