The Bread Matters Baking for Community course is a significant agent in the emergence of community-supported bakeries in the UK. We created it, and the associated consultancy service, in 2008, in response to numerous requests from bakers and social enterprises for training and advice on all matters from baking, production planning and purchasing equipment, through ingredient sourcing, marketing and selling, to starting-up a community enterprise.
We develop and improve the course content, methods and materials each year. Feedback from the courses is overwhelmingly positive and speaks of the lasting influence the four-day experience has on participants and on those with whom they collaborate.
Having championed the cause of real bread and run breadmaking courses since 2003, we are ready to make this creative space of thinking and doing available to more individuals and groups. We particularly want the benefits of this work to reach those with the most limited access to real food and we're creating a social enterprise to pursue these social and educational objectives. Ultimately, our purpose is to inspire the individuals and groups, and to disseminate the knowledge and skills, which will enable communities to nourish healthy people from the fields around them, enrich their local economies and cultivate food sovereignty. Our AIMS are to innovate, collaborate and participate in projects that will improve
Baking bread mindfully engages us with three areas of life – cultural, nutritional and political. Mindfulness demands more than simply ‘paying attention’ to the process as we bake. Bread still defines our food culture and, made well, has the ‘capacity to enliven’ both individual bodies and communities. For too long, however, its production has been dominated by linear thinking and the seductive demands of cheapness and convenience.
Sourdough embraces different methods and values. It is circular, self-renewing, time-respecting, self-cleansing and collaborative. In an active sourdough, power is dynamically balanced so that no element can dominate or monopolise resources. And so, as sourdough microorganisms transform raw dough into nourishing bread, we, the bakers, find ourselves challenged to see the world differently and to make it better, one loaf at a time.
We have begun by working with young people who are seeking to build ethical and sustainable livelihoods; the next generation of change makers, whose sphere of influence will extend far beyond ours, and by integrating the philosophy and practice of Scotland The Bread into that and other projects. The development of a social enterprise will enable us to do more of this work and to:
Provide assisted places on Baking for Community training for those who are starting up community enterprises or volunteering in not-for-profit sectors, and make Baking for Community accessible to people who are on low incomes and/or benefits, who face barriers to employment and to social inclusion, and to people with disabilities.
Extend the continuing mentoring and advice provided by Bread Matters to community-supported bakeries and other relevant values-driven enterprises. This includes networking, knowledge exchange and promotion of well-matched internships and placements, as well as support to individual bakers destined for this sector.
Use bread making as the medium for transformative training of teams and multi-disciplinary groups working in health, education, social care and related professions, particularly, but not exclusively, those with responsibility for children and families.
Give a new generation of citizens control over their daily bread and the opportunity to create more healthy and sustainable livelihoods (including micro-businesses).
The teaching, advice and advocacy we provide enables others to introduce the basic skills and simple tools for making real, nutritious bread to people who are marginalised or face barriers to equality and inclusion. Our approach is radical, coherent and dynamic. There is a great deal that we want to develop. If you would like to know more, to make suggestions or to support this work, please get in touch.
It has become the norm to describe a business or a group that sets out, as part of its core activities, to bring some benefits to the wellbeing of others as a ‘social enterprise’. What is a social enterprise? It is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or community.
In 2002, the UK Government published an ‘official’ definition of social enterprise, which was also adopted in Scotland. The ensuing decade brought a dramatic rise in the popularity of social enterprise. However, the government definition was never invested with sufficient authority to be effective and its meaning has become increasingly diluted.The Scottish social enterprise community has addressed this lack of clarity by setting out five basic criteria for social enterprise in a voluntary code of practice. Known simply as ‘the Code’, this document also identifies some less easily-defined influences and principles in what it calls ‘the values and behaviours by which we recognise each other’.
The FIVE Scottish criteria
‘A Social Enterprise is a business trading in the marketplace – selling goods and services – but whose primary objective is to achieve social and/or environmental benefit.’
2 & 3. It has an ‘asset lock’ on both trading surplus and residual assets.A social enterprise re-invests all of its distributable (or surplus) profit for the purpose of its social mission. Where the business has shareholding investment, no more than 35% of profit may be distributed in dividends. On dissolution of the business, all residual assets go to social/environmental purposes. This marks the boundary between social enterprise and the private sector.
‘Regardless of its legal form, the constitution of a SE will include the requirement that profits are reinvested in the business or in the beneficiary community – and not distributed to owners/shareholders/ investors.’
‘The constitution will always require that on dissolution, the assets of the SE are reinvested in another organisation with similar aims and objectives.’
4 It is trading body, aspiring to financial independence.The focus on trading marks the boundary between social enterprise and the public sector.
‘Social enterprises are different from those charities and voluntary organisations which do not aspire to financial independence through trading.’
5 It is not part of any public body.Whilst a social enterprise can be the trading subsidiary of a charity, it must be constitutionally independent from the governance of any public body.
‘SEs are distinct from the public sector and cannot be the subsidiary of a public body.’
The explicit values
Social enterprises are businesses founded on core values; that social fairness and the protection of the planet should be pre-conditions of all economic activity, with all business practices expected to be honest and fair.They are good employers, who continually strive to offer a dignified workplace experience, aiming to pay a ‘living wage’ and having flatter pay structures than the private sector. They do not pay inequitable salaries to senior management; a maximum ratio of 1:5 between lowest and highest is a useful guide.
They are democratic. From Co-ops and ‘mutuals’, social enterprises have learned the benefits of common ownership and democratic governance. This is the primary model of the social economy in continental Europe. From the development trust and community enterprise sectors, social enterprises have learned about bottom-up responses to social problems and how they empower local communities.
They collaborate. Within the common sense of running a competitive business, social enterprises try to help and support one another, in the spirit of the Open Source IT community. Social enterprises will also, where possible, encourage the practice of intra-trading i.e. procuring local goods and services from within the sector itself.
An increasingly popular vehicle is the Community Interest Company, which was introduced as a bespoke legal form for social enterprises that wanted to combine the company trading model with an assurance that assets would be used for the benefit of the community. Its key features are the:
Making bread for our fellow citizens is noble work. When it makes use of grain and flour that has been bred, grown and milled locally, with attention to its nutritional properties, it becomes a powerful agent for change. If the bakery business is rooted in, and supported by, the local community, it will contribute to the health, skills, confidence and economic security of a much wider group than those directly involved.
The local ‘multiplier’ (LM3) refers to the economic concept: money that enters an economy has a multiplied effect on that economy based on the way people spend and re-spend it. It was developed by nef (the new economics foundation) as a simple and understandable way of measuring local economic impact. The LM3 was designed to be quick and relatively easy way to think about money flows and to highlight how our organisations can practically improve their local economic impact, (as well as influencing the public sector to consider the impact of its procurement decisions). The measuring process starts with 1) a source of income (say, total income into a social enterprise) and follows how it is 2) spent and then 3) re-spent within a defined geographic area (the ‘local economy’). More re-spending in the local economy means a higher multiplier effect because more income is generated.