On Friday I cried. While working. A couple of times. In part, frustrated, sad tears at how difficult life is for so many but also happy, grateful tears because there are people in the world who are brave and strong and people who are kind, compassionate and who care. People who want to step up, give back and make a difference.
All of these emotions came to the surface during a site visit and tour of The Bread & Butter Project in Marrickville, where we met some amazing people and heard some amazing stories.
The Bread & Butter Project is a bakery and it produces delicious, artisanal, handmade bread and pastries. But more importantly the Bread & Butter Project is a social enterprise – Australia’s first social enterprise bakery that reinvests 100% of their profits into baker training and employment pathways for refugees and asylum seekers. As they say of themselves, they are ‘makers of bakers’.
Established 6 years ago by the owners of Bourke St Bakery after co-founder Paul Allam visited a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border, the Bread & Butter Project has now produced 26 graduates. Of these graduates, all were refugees, and all are still in employment – and most of them are still employed in baking.
While the practical skills taught through the traineeships are invaluable, the trainees are also supported to learn English and to achieve formal qualifications through the bakery’s partnership with TAFE. And due to the current shortage of bakers, graduates have excellent prospects of employment; some have even taken permanent roles at the bakery itself. Year on year the bakery has increased its capacity to train, starting at two and now with a goal of 15 trainees coming through every 6 months.
The Project has both a retail and a wholesale arm for their products, plus they host classes and team building sessions for corporations. They receive around 10% of their funding from corporate philanthropy, but it is the baking and master classes that are the primary source of funding for the not-for-profit organisation.
Beyond being a source of training, employment, and opportunity, the Bread & Butter Project is a place of heart and hope. It feels more like a family operation despite the staff and trainees coming from all over the world, including Myanmar, Syria, Pakistan, and Iraq. And while they have arrived here from such a wide range of countries, and from a wide range of professions and backgrounds, one of the things the trainees have in common are that they have amazing life stories and have overcome some incredible, devastating odds.
So, where can you find yourself some of this amazing bread? Their website has a comprehensive list of stockists, but really you don’t have to look too far – Harris Farm Market, Carriageworks Farmers’ market, Northside Produce Market, Hudson Meats, various home delivery services all stock it – it’s really all over. And more important than the fact that it tastes good, is that it does good.
See you next time! - Elise
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