It was a wholesome week for the Just Bread bakesters as we set about making 150 of our 66% seeded rye rolls which, with a coarser grain, took a little extra energy and strength to prepare for baking.
With the dough set to prove by the warm oven, the women shared lunch with special guests from the Goring Hotel who had come to see what we were up to with future opportunities in mind. The women enjoyed demonstrating their baking skills and knowledge and were enthusiastic about the idea of furthering their skills with some experience at the hotel.
Along with our soup, we inspected the latest in e5 Bakehouse’s ventures, bread made from the wheat grown in their own field which quickly got the seal of approval of our sourdough experts.
Once the bread was shaped and finally set to bake, there was time to relax. Over tea, the group discussed their varying experiences of life in the UK as a new refugee.
For Nazy, who came to the UK from Iran in 1985, settling here was altogether a positive experience, “When I first came to England I loved it. I’d always wanted to come live in a different country so I was excited. The problem was that we study English as a second language. It’s different when you actually come to speak to people.” Yet for Noha, who was granted refugee status in 2013, home is still Khartoum. “I don’t feel like London’s my home because it’s so different. I don’t know many people here. I do have some friends but life is difficult when your family are far away.”
With the recent sea change in attitudes towards people seeking asylum in Europe, it seems that now is the perfect time to encourage and support initiatives that engage Britain’s communities with the experiences of their refugee inhabitants. A lack of understanding of refugees’ histories, wishes and entitlements have for a long time fueled the sort of fearful attitudes which lead to cold rejection of asylum seekers’ calls for help. Only through enabling refugees to become truly part of their new communities can attitudes be altered on a fundamental level.
Discussing the difficulties of life as a new refugee, the women had some sound advice for those still finding their feet: “Make friends” advised Nazy. “It’s difficult without them! And use the facilities available to refugees here, especially courses and opportunities to learn. First improve your English, then everything else is easier.”
Next week, we start making our baking personal, introducing the flavours and styles of our bakers’ home countries into what we do. For homework, the bakers have accepted the challenge of sourcing a favourite baked produce from their country of origin to share with the group. Can’t wait!
This week, Just Bread hit the news around the world. Check us out in Spanish national paper El Mundo