It was another week of firsts for the Just Bread team, who came together to make an astounding 120 ciabatta ‘slippers’ to satisfy our growing number of subscribers. There was a real sense of professionalism among the bakers today who – now in week four of their training – are already being required to demonstrate the efficiency and team work skills needed to work in a professional bakery.

Dividing the dough into rolls

Noha, Joy and Nazy divide the dough into rolls

And all of the bakers rose to the challenge, working well together under significant time pressures to weigh and mix ingredients, organise the packages for delivery, divide the dough into rolls, plan for future sessions, speak to visiting press, tidy up, make the coffees… It was clear from today that the Just Bread project is about much more than baking. The range of skills required in each session mean that every participant has the opportunity to improve their employability in areas ranging from literacy and numeracy, to team management, communication and self-confidence.

The purpose of the Just Bread project as a means to help London’s refugee women find work was brought into focus over lunch when the group met Sana, a former Just Bread trainee and current e5 Bakehouse employee. Sana spoke about how the Just Bread project had appeared at a very welcome time, during her first few months as a refugee. For Sana, the project was not just a first point-of-access to the world of work, but a means to discover a whole new passion for baking, which she intends to become her full-time profession.

Noha, Sana and Christina catch up over lunch

New trainees Noha and Christina share lunch with former trainee Sana

The difficulties facing refugees in the UK as they look for work are substantial. In a competitive market, language barriers, culture shock and the daunting task of navigating an entirely unfamiliar system, combined with a lack of awareness among employees and non-acceptance of overseas qualifications too frequently prove overwhelming for new refugees who often lack robust support. For these reasons, Just Bread aims to provide holistic employment support to every trainee and as wide a range of opportunities as possible. Gaining new qualifications is an important part of this, and the women were delighted today to be presented with their well-deserved certificates for Level One Food & Hygiene.

Celebrating exam success!

Celebrating exam success!

With six weeks of training left to go, already we’re beginning to think about the next adventure. Pop-up cafe, market stall, work experience, pastry training- the possibilities are multiple and we’re excited to be exploring with the trainees how Just Bread can continue to be an enjoyable, effective and inspiring means of helping refugees into employment.

If you or your organisation have an idea about how you could support Just Bread’s goal to help refugee women into employment we would love to hear from you. Please contact andrew.lawton@refugeecouncil.org.uk.