Hackney charity expands services for young refugees during pandemic

A woman in front of a market stall selling bread.

Jessica, Breadwinner, market stall manager at Camberwell Green market stall, in the partnership with bakery Celtic Bakers. - Credit: Breadwinners

A Hackney charity has reached its fundraising goal to expand its services and help more young people seeking asylum into employment.

Breadwinners, based in Victoria Park Market, has raised over £10,000 to set up two new London stalls, allowing it to support 16 new refugees each year.

The charity provides young refugees with training and work experience selling artisan bread on its London market stalls and new online delivery service, which it launched after the first lockdown.

A woman with long dark hair wearing a visor and holding out a pastry.

Gobika, Breadwinner, at Maltby Street Market. - Credit: Breadwinners

READ MORE: Young refugee works hard to keep Victoria Park charity going during coronavirus pandemic

Zoe Allen, who works at Breadwinners, said refugees "who aren’t settled aren’t allowed to work, so Breadwinners gives them work experience” through the Risers programme.

It also often gives those who have been newly granted their refugee status their first job paying London living wage, through the Breadwinners programme.


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“It’s such an isolating experience being without work as a young refugee,” Zoe said. “It’s really important to give them space within the community.”

A man holding a sign reading: "How close are you to having your dream job?"

Jamal, Breadwinner, after taking part in a (socially distanced) task at the markets asking people about their dream career. - Credit: Breadwinners

Zoe said Breadwinners' work has been “really invaluable” for refugees over the pandemic, while “everyone loves the social side”.

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The charity provided many with laptops to work on its Proofers programme, set up after the first lockdown, to train the refugees to manage its new delivery service.

Delivering over 1,600 baked goods across London through this service alone, Breadwinners has helped several of its service users into roles requiring computer literacy skills this summer, including for the British Red Cross.

As well as continuing to support refugees, Breadwinners has achieved sales success over the pandemic.

“There was a real boom when we first started over the lockdown,” Zoe said. “It really picked up, we had a massive spike.”

Although it has now “slowed down” as farmers’ markets have been able to remain open since the first lockdown ended, Breadwinners broke its own record for market sales last month.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the markets being very responsible and keeping safe, and the customers for being great too,” Zoe added.

Breadwinners was founded in 2016.

Donate to Breadwinners by visiting www.breadwinners.org.uk/donate.

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