The bakery churning out social good to aid refugees

- July 26, 2019 3 MIN READ

They say a bakery is only as good as the bread it makes, but that doesn’t apply to The Bread & Butter Project.

Sure, the bread is good, but it is the people who are making the product who are most important.

The Bread & Butter Project is not your average bakery – it has become a training ground for refugees and asylum seekers coming to Australia.

The wholesale bakery provides Sydney-siders with another high-quality choice in sourdough, while also literally changing the lives of its trainees.

Founded by Paul Allam and David McGuinness, partners in the beloved Bourke Street Bakery, it has had a regular intake of refugees into its training program since launching in 2013.

100 per cent of the profits go towards training and employment pathways for refugees and asylum seekers, with bread and pastry sales funding the training and operation costs.

The company’s trainees leave the inner-Sydney business as qualified bakers and with much needed skills to start their new life in Australia.

Board Member Dan Grynberg, who will be sharing The Bread & Butter Project’s story at the Social Good Summit Australia in Sydney on August 10, says the company can train up to 30 refugees per year, with the aim of not only making a quality product, but also making a vital difference to the lives of its trainees.

“As a social enterprise, we operate as a commercial business, but we are also a registered charity. Our profits are channelled into creating opportunity and alleviating poverty,” Grynberg said.

“Our price point is competitive, and our customers tell us our product quality is astounding.

“Our loaves have a story behind them, and we’re increasingly able to train and find secure employment for people that have come to this country from quite significantly disrupted lives.”

The Bread & Butter Project works with several refugee assistance, relief and placement organisations to find its trainees.

It regularly has 60-70 people applying for 10 spots in each trainee intake.

“Sourcing the trainees is not a challenge. What we try to do is pick people who wouldn’t have found jobs anyway, so that we make a real and lasting difference,” Mr Grynberg said.

“We’re finding we’re getting a very engaged and keen group of people that are involved.

“They respond very well to the training. It is hard work, but it is very tangible – they want to get ahead.”

The latest batch of trainees will graduate on July 30 in Sydney.

They will walk away with a Certificate II qualification in baking, but the TAFE degree is only the beginning.

The bakers will have also received much needed social and language skills, to help them integrate into their new lives, as well as becoming members of the community.

“We have volunteers that provide hundreds of hours of English tuition, including my Mum,” Mr Grynberg said.

“They learn so many vital skills. How to work safe, navigate transport, social skills, language skills, how to deal with industrial law.

“We currently have a 100% track record of participants graduating from our program, finding sustainable employment and no longer needing to access the Newstart allowance.

“Research from the Social Impact Hub also found the children of our past graduates were also in full-time employment or education, which is not the normal trajectory for many refugees in Australia – particularly those who haven’t got language skills or work experience.

“Many are still in baking, but at the same time many are ambitious and have started their own businesses.

“It shows people in business can use their networks, their skills, their capital to start something that can do a bit of good in the world.”

Board Member, Dan Grynberg will share The Bread & Butter Project story at The Social Good Summit Australia on August 10 in Sydney.

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