Community project uses bread baking to connect with disadvantaged communities

Breaking bread has long been used to forge links with one another...and now a project at Teesside University is using baking to connect people from diverse backgrounds.

The Big River Bakery runs workshops to engage local people and students feeling isolated.

The bakery was established to work closely with BAME communities and BAME led organisations living and working locally and aims to address the needs of the communities nearby and also help in their ambitions to develop food businesses.

Managed and run by Big River Bakery the bakery’s aims are the same as those of Newcastle’s – to support and offer greater opportunities for communities who have been disadvantaged.  

We believe food is not merely a commodity, but can offer real value to a community - employment, inclusivity, prosperity, and health and wellbeing. We are thrilled to be working in collaboration with like-minded organisations like Teesside University, allowing us to affect positive change for people that is real and accountable.’

Fran Hammill, Manager, Teesside Big River Bakery

The bakery’s first bread deliveries have been made to Ubuntu Multicultural Centre on Clifton street in Middlesbrough recently.Irene Kabuye, the Centre Coordinator of Ubuntu Multicultural Centre, is a poverty campaigner and been working with bakery manager Fran to help to bridge the gap between the university and the local community.

She said, “Thank you so much, our communities got to enjoy fresh bread. The response from the community to the first two deliveries is that the children noticed the difference and want more. Really looking forward to baking more very soon.’’

Bread is such a fundamental element of food round the world...and people come together to break bread, so it seems to connect with everyone whether they are 102 or two years old. It's very therapeutic, and we have people at the moment who are socially isolated, so you can come together and also its constructive, you make something, it's there. It's a beautiful thing...and you can eat it!

Andy Haddon, Founder

With home baking kits, the bakery's also reached out to refugees, unemployed people and students with online tutorials. 

Mahesh is a student and said "This could be a leisure time activity as well as us save some money! So I think that is very important for students like me and i love cooking and making so this is also an opportunity to showcase my skills."

A micro project with room to rise, who wouldn't want a slice of it?