We just had the celebration lunch for Bake the Difference, our programme helping ex-offenders reintegrate back into the community through baking. Year 2 of the programme, which took place in 2019 and 2020 has been particularly challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the trainees showed great resilience in coping with the situation. For Paul Henderson-Grey, CEO of Quiet Company: “This is a great moment for the trainees and all those involved in the programme inside and outside of Friends House and a very cheerful, positive and hopeful moment in these challenging times.”
Listening to feedback
We listened to feedback from the previous year and introduced quite a few changes. We wanted the programme to grow and evolve, empowering trainees with new skills:
The Peer Mentor: a full circle of support
The appointment of a Peer Mentor role is one of the greatest achievements of the programme, showing a full circle of support. We appointed Tony, who took part in the programme during the first year and had had work placements at Friends House before. He gave confidence and hope to the trainees, one of them said: “Tony really is an asset…he gives us all hope that we can live a crime free life.”
Tony himself felt supported by our team and included in our decision-making process. He said of the experience: “This role started for me through a catering work placement, but over 4 years it has turned into this beautiful thing.” This role has been a real uplifting experience and success, which will come back in our next run of the programme.
What’s next for the programme?
We aim to resume as soon as it is safe to do so. We know trainees are eager to embark on a new journey, and this could be in September 2021.
We have reviewed feedback from 2020 and are thinking of introducing some new things to help trainees even better integrate into the programme. This could be a buddy system, where pairs support each other, Tony could be even more involved in the decision making. We are also thinking of extending the range of skills further. Trainees could be job shadowing other members of staff, in our AV team for example.
Leaving the programme: helping trainees set a foot in the workplace
What happens once the trainees leave Friends House? We know that our Quaker workplace is a very safe, warm and welcoming environment to work in. Other places offer similar settings but unfortunately this is not the norm. So, how can we help trainees set a foot in the workplace and help them build on the skills and confidence they gained with us? Forming partnerships with external companies in the catering or hospitality industry could be a start. This would ensure a smooth transition into the working world and we could still have regular meetings to touch base on the trainees progress and situation. This is one area we are exploring. We know it is a tough world out there, even more so in these times of pandemic, so we really want to build on the success of the programme and help the trainees gain their place in the kitchens or elsewhere. Nicola Purdy, Head of Service Delivery, who oversees the programme: “Today was a much-needed reminder about how much good Bake the Difference means to us and to the trainees that took part. I feel hopeful for the future of the programme, and excited to work in partnership with other likeminded organisations to grow the scheme.”