The upheaval of fleeing the dangers of your home country for the safety of an unfamiliar land is something few of us can imagine. Over the past two years, we have become all too aware of the perilous journey many refugees face; however, the problems they encounter once they reach their destination are less well documented.
A new country comes with its own set of challenges, be it housing, employment or the often neglected significance of language barriers. The combination of these things, combined with the trauma of leaving your own home, can leave refugees feeling deeply isolated and alone.
This is why it’s so uplifting to see people assisting them with these struggles, especially when it’s done through practical means. The E5 Bakehouse in Hackney is helping refugee women ease their way into UK life by teaching them about different aspects of baking, like making sourdough bread.
Baking may not be the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to solving the problems these refugees may be dealing with. But when you think about it in detail – the interactions, the furnishing of new skills, the satisfaction of creating something with your own hands – you can see why it would be incredibly valuable to the women.
The bakery was supported in the scheme by the Refugee Council. The Just Bread Project is a ten-week training programme that wants to equip participants with the skills to enter the UK food industry.
Speaking to East London Lines, the Refugee Council said: ‘The Just Bread project gives refugees really important practical skills. As well as learning artisan bread making methods and techniques, people are also supported with their English language, literacy and numeracy skills.’
They also explained how the project offers emotional support to the women: ‘We create a warm, safe and supportive environment where people can be themselves, talk openly and develop friendships. Increased confidence and self-esteem are one of the most positive outcomes of their participation.’
In September, E5 opened an additional cafe, the E5 Roasthouse, in Poplar, with the aim of providing employment for some of the migrant women in the Just Bread program. Four former trainees have already been hired. As it says on the E5 blog: ‘Sana, a participant from the very first program, is involved in the daily running of the cafe, and we have 3 other staff members who were former trainees.’
If you need more of a reason to visit, 30% of profits from E5 Roasthouse will support refugee organisations.
We love this initiative as its impact is felt immediately: it’s not just looking after people, but giving people the skills to look after themselves. Better yet, it’s giving these women something that can rarely be provided through donations alone: friends! The people who make settling into a new place so much easier.