Close to home


In 1854 a desperate mother-of-two was classified as being so “poor and needy” that her local church handed her the key to a tiny cottage in Grasmere in the middle of the Lake District.

The move not only rescued Sarah Nelson from destitution - along with her gravedigger husband and two daughters - but soon after she invented Grasmere Gingerbread®, a culinary sensation that has since taken the world by storm.



“Grasmere Gingerbread® - which is now celebrating its 170th anniversary - was literally born out of poverty and homelessness,” explained Joanne Hunter, co-director of the historic Cumbrian business.

“Arguably, had Sarah not moved into Church Cottage next to St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere - and been able to establish a safe and secure home to raise her family - she would never have had the mind space or means to create her world-famous cross between a biscuit and cake.”

Fast forward to 2024 and Britain is facing a housing crisis, with rising levels of rough sleeping, expensive, insecure rented accommodation and more than a million households on the waiting list for a genuinely affordable social home.

In recognising the history of its own founder, Grasmere Gingerbread® made homelessness the target of its 2023 Christmas appeal.

In addition to donating money and gifts to two homelessness organisations in Cumbria - Manna House in Kendal and Calderwood House in Egremont - the business donated £2000 to national homelessness Crisis’ Newcastle Skylight.

Based on City Road, the charity provides services and support to help people on their journey to leave homelessness behind for good

“We have so many amazing customers from the north-east who come across to support The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop that we felt moved to reach out to Crisis in Newcastle,” explained Joanne.

“After visiting Skylight, I was incredibly moved and impressed by the incredible work that Crisis does.

“I am absolutely certain that if Sarah Nelson was alive today this is exactly the sort of organisation that she would turn to for help.”

Thanking Grasmere Gingerbread® for its “fantastic donation”, Adele Turnbull, National & Regional Fundraising Manager at Crisis, explained that “it is only because of support like this that we are able to be here, all year round, and help people who are experiencing homelessness”.

Joanne Hunter presenting the cheque to Crisis