One winter day in 2009, my motorcycle would not start. It turned out to be a rather complicated and expensive fix, and being short of money (I had decided to take a break from my job) and long of bread, (which I was baking while I was awake in the middle of the night) I offered to part-pay the repair man in bread. The bread was a sourdough Borodinski rye loaf and the man was from Russia.
He tossed it up and down in one hand to gauge the weight of it. He inhaled it’s aroma, redolent with coriander and cumin. He nearly wept as a sense of longing came over him for his homeland, his family, and all the things he loved. He had been lonely, he confessed, and now he felt happier, a little more connected and at home, knowing there was a corner of this foreign land where he could get the bread he loved. I gave him bread, he fixed my bike and I observed the power of a simple loaf of bread. In the edgy and disconnected post-crisis world, he also gave me had an idea: to change the world through bread.
Today, Virtuous Bread is self-financing social enterprise. Through the Bread Angels network of award winning micro-bakers and trainers, we teach people how to bake bread, how to set up micro-bakeries and how to teach others how to bake bread and set up micro-bakeries. We have taught thousands of people how to bake their own bread and taken hundreds of people through the micro-bakery course, enabling budding entrepreneurs to realise their dreams of running their own businesses. We have also worked with executive teams, baking bread as team building exercises or stress management initiatives.
On a voluntary basis, we have partnered with different organisations to deliver bread courses and demonstrate bread skills, and are happy to play whatever role is needed. The Clink Charity, The Real Bread Campaign, and The Refugee Council are all organisations with which we have teamed up to create meaningful experiences with bread. These experiences include teaching people how to bake bread in places as diverse as prisons, schools, care homes for the elderly, shelters for street kids, and centres for young people who are neither in education nor employment. We have participated in various programmes to help people with mental illness learn to bake bread, and experience some relief through the baking process. We have worked with refugees to help them learn new skills and integrate more easily on their arrival into the UK.
The courses and workshops we run for these groups are customised to meet the participants’ needs. Did you know, for example, that cannot use yeast in a category B prison? Have you considered that many elderly people find it too difficult to knead bread dough or that many refugees speak little English. We can adapt! There are countless ways to bake bread and countless ways to teach.
If you would like to talk to us about giving bread classes or demonstrations at your organisation, please contact us.
If you would like to book one of our amazing face to face bread courses or our award winning course micro bakery course, click here. If you would like to explore the range of virtual courses we have, including the course on how to set up a microbakery, click here.
If you like what we do and would like to support us, you can become a member of Bread Angels. We look forward to getting to know you.