Place Category: Food & Drink
Big River Bakery is a social enterprise bakery in Shieldfield, specialising in slow ferment, handmade breads, made with organic flours and real fresh ingredients. We believe we can change the world one loaf at a time.
We have over six years of experience using baking as a means of bringing diverse communities together, creating pathways to employment, and making healthy food affordable and available to all.
We run a baking and barista themed employability programme for local people furthest from the job market and also provide employment for people with learning disabilities – such as autism.
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated October 2020
1) What are the main social differences you have aimed to make (or supported)?
- Local food should be healthy, affordable and available to all
- Using baking as a means of bringing diverse communities together and to help create pathways to employment
- Localising and shortening food supply chains
2) What actions have you taken to deliver the aims described above?
We have a ‘pay what you can’ shop at our bakery each Monday and Tuesday. This shop and the products in it are produced by participants on our ‘One Loaf at a time’ employability programme which has operated since jan 2020 and if funded through European Social Investment Fund.
We have run a food parcel scheme in lockdown for local communities and also produced baking kits for households.
Through the summer we produced 100 lunches a day for children as part of an activity programme to give them a ‘Best summer Ever’ as the programme was called.
We employ individuals on the autistic spectrum through DWP Access to Work Programme.
We have been growing wheat in collaboration with a community project in Newcastle and this year we produced loaves from wheat grown on Tyneside for the first time in several hundred years using our mills. We aim to scale up this project to shorten and localise the bread wheat supply chain.
We own an electric vehicle charging post.
We are about to start a second bakery on Teesside located in the most deprived area of Middlesbrough in a large BAME community. This project is being developed in collaboration with Teesside University.
We have undertook energy survey at our new bakery on Tyneside. We have maximised low energy usage through installation of Eco features baking oven and low energy lighting and energy controls.
We source food ingredients locally and use UK flours from Marriages.
We have undertaken various PhD collaborations with Newcastle University.
We run community events and training events from our bakery and foodhub site.
We incubate food business startups.
3) What has changed, what specific outcomes and benefits have been realised as a result of the above actions?
- We have made health baked goods affordable in deprived communities on Tyneside
- We have maximised our impact through partnerships
- We now employ 9 people and offer volunteering opportunities to others
4) Please describe how your income and/or any profits generated from previous years has been maximised in delivering social outputs and adding social value.
- Our founders was essentially voluntary for a considerable part of the time while we established the business at a viable scale
- We have ran multiple community meetings and events at no charge from our premises
- We make food available to mutual aid groups locally to be distributes to those in need
- We coach food business startups
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
Formal outputs from our ESIF employability programme:
- Create a healthy and affordable local food system at scale in the north east
- Developed and delivered a franchise model with wider geographical spread
- Created a viable brand which has a recognised ethos enabling it to operate much more widely than a bakery
- Created a pipeline of businesses under our umbrella offering both products and services
- Created systems change in the food sector and recognised globally for that
6) How many people have benefitted from your actions and what measures of benefit can you report?
In the last year we have supported approximately 200 people, not including bakery product customers.
Specific benefits of skills and employability training delivered to approximately 30 people.
Schools based training delivered to 100 children.
7) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that help illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
Our ‘One Loaf at a Time’ employability programme is funded through ESIF and moves long term unemployed people towards employment and further training.
We had supported volunteering for autistyic volunteers for 5 years and last year started employing the autistic people who have an age range 18-25.
We have ran baking workshops for local people on a donation only basis. These have included xmas and spring events for all ages.
8) What social and environmental benefits have you created arising from internal operational policies and other actions?
We have an environmental policy and have reduced energy use through energy survey conducted through programme ran by Newcastle City Council. This resulted in low energy lighting, lighting controls and eco baking oven. The equipment upgrades required investment of over £50k.