A TEAM of volunteer bakers are busy creating cakes for struggling Southampton families.

The city branch of Free Cakes For Kids, which now has 60 groups across the UK, has produced 218 colourful creations for youngsters since its inception in May 2019.

And they're busier than ever with families feeling the financial impact of Covid.

All the birthday cakes are lovingly prepared in volunteers’ own homes, and decorated specially with each child’s favourite theme – free of charge.

Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol are the most commonly requested themes, but youngsters have also been treated to Wallace and Gromit, Minions, sports and chocolate cakes.

Bakers have been set some interesting challenges including producing a go-karting rat cake for twins, one of whom was an animal lover and the other an adrenaline junkie.

Co-ordinator Milly Thomas told the Daily Echo: "We all love baking. If we can make a child happy with something we've made for them, it's definitely worth it.

"Many of the children will have never had a birthday cake before, let alone one personally baked for them. One of the first cakes was for a 16-year-old who had never had a party or a cake or even a present that somebody had bought specifically for her because she had been in foster care all her life.

"Some people think it's just a birthday cake but, if you've never had one, it's a huge deal. It's a little bit of normality for these children. It's nice for them to know that they're being thought of."

A team of around 15 bakers, some with their own professional baking businesses and others enthusiastic amateur bakers, are assisted by three volunteer drivers and they continue to offer their services through the latest lockdown.

Milly added: "When we first locked down, we stopped baking. But so many kids have missed out on so much. You're allowed to go out for food deliveries and volunteering so we polled our bakers and decided to keep going. It's important to keep going for the kids. Everyone deserves a bit of luxury, particularly at times like this."

Milly first decided to set up the group nearly two years ago with the help of Swaythling ward councillor Lorna Fielker.

She now has regular referrals from social services in Southampton as well as Southampton Voluntary Services, Mencap, Solent Mind and the Rose Road Association and is helping set up groups in Winchester, Fareham and Gosport, Bournemouth and Poole and on the Isle of Wight.

To get involved, email freecakesforkidssouthampton@gmail.com