Lucy Butt is the co-founder of Bramber Bakehouse, an award-winning bakery in the South East. Writing especially for Spring Harvest, Lucy shares her testament of launching a project to renew the prospects of women survivors. From an inspired idea to a successful charity, the Bramber Bakehouse story is stirring proof of the way God’s word can transform lives.
"Several years ago, God told me to open a bakery, providing training and support to women who had experienced sexual exploitation.
I had no experience working with women who had gone through such significant trauma and I had only run a small baking business from my parents’ kitchen to make a little money on the side. It was going to be a challenge but I had to respond to what God was calling me to do.
It was clear God had a plan and purpose for my life, and for the lives of women we were opening the door to. With boldness and fear (in equal measure) I began pushing doors, speaking with friends, family and those I knew who worked in the field. Little did I know, my friend Hollin Preston had been given a similar vision and so, we decided to team up.
Our faith was, and has always been, the driver. Armed with passion, determination and faith that God had spoken, we launched Bramber Bakehouse in 2016. God was clearly on the move – he provided us with the money we needed to set up as a registered charity, surrounded us with anti-trafficking experts and organisations and, when our applications opened in 2016, we were inundated with women eager to learn baking and employability skills to aid their restoration and recovery.
We live by the words of Isaiah 58 (The Message):
“If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins. If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community liveable again.”
To date, we have seen 18 women successfully complete Bramber Bakehouse and we are looking forward to six further graduations next month. We’ve partnered with Waitrose, we’ve won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and we’ve raised almost £100,000 along the way. However, none of these are as important as knowing we are living in the centre of God’s will. A heart of worship is a heart of obedience.
There have been many times we have seen the devil creeping around, producing negative thoughts about the inability to lead a charity, lead a team and do good but time and time again we must return to the ‘heart of worship’, reminding ourselves that it is for God we do this; he cares about the vulnerable, therefore we care about the vulnerable. Jesus poured out his life for us. God sent his son for us. The daily sacrifice to serve and support women who’ve experienced years of exploitation is the least we can do, and God is with us!"
Bramber Bakehouse provides baking and employability skills to women survivors of human trafficking. To find out more about Bramber Bakehouse, visit www.bramberbakehouse.co.uk