Bake the Difference started in September 2018, when the first participants stepped into the Friends House kitchen. They all had a history of breaking the law or antisocial behaviour and a diagnosis of personality disorder.
People in circumstances like these can often find themselves excluded by society, finding it difficult to get a job or even secure accommodation due to their pasts. Too often a lack of stability in their lives can result in a return to prison.
For many participants, the workplace is a challenging place. Some have not worked for a long time or have never worked before. They also face many challenges in their lives outside Friends House.
The programme is here to provide them with some stability. For 6 months, they are mentored by an experienced chef and learn the basics of food and hygiene. On top of the baking course, they also learn front of house, barista and kitchen porter skills in the Seed Kitchen restaurant.
Participants spend nine hours a week (the maximum allowed without affecting their benefits) at Friends House and are paid over the London Living Wage (£11.96 an hour). They bake all the desserts served in Seed Kitchen.
We are currently working with the Shaw Trust to find durable employment for the participants after the completion of the programme. A number of high street companies have been approached and showed an interest.Go to Shaw Trust
It has been amazing, really. To be honest, before I started I didn’t really have much hope for it. I was quite grumpy and didn’t have much trust or faith in any doors opening for me. But when it began, we were straight into the work. I have not stopped learning from that day to this. I love the cooking and have learnt so much – my family can see how much I have changed. Previously I was really isolated and had no structure to my day and was pretty depressed. This has given me purpose. I know I have to leave, but I believe I can get a job now. I would happily carry on working voluntarily if I can. I really, really appreciate everything from this year.
Bake the Difference has done so much for my self-esteem, and respect in my household. My daughter’s respect most importantly. As soon as I am back out, I’ll bring all my family to Friends House to meet everyone. Although I am in hell being back here [in prison], I am glad I have managed to leave a good impression and reputation at Friends House. I have not had that experience before, and it means a lot to me.
I have loved every minute of it. I was just going to retire, but now my family and I can see more for me than that. We are looking at doing a market or a pop-up stall somewhere. I love cooking and seeing people eat what I have made. I was too embarrassed about the long gap in my CV to ever put myself out there, but now I feel like I can really do something with this. I can’t fault any of it.