If you’re planning on visiting the Brockley Christmas Market this coming Saturday (7th December), make sure you stop by the Good Measure Bakery stall for their delicious treats as well as the social purpose behind it.
Good Measure is Lewisham’s very own catering social enterprise working to ‘harness the power of food to transform lives and enrich communities across London.’ Established two years ago – you might have known them as Bloom Bakery until recently – the team at Good Measure provide high quality catering for corporate events, meetings or celebrations. The difference to other catering companies is that 100% of Good Measure’s income is reinvested into training and support for people facing unemployment and social exclusion.
The catering is the engine to support Good Measure’s community training programme which provides catering training to those experiencing unemployment – developing skills, building confidence, improving wellbeing and boosting employability.
Who are the trainees?
The social enterprise works with long-term unemployed people facing various challenges and barriers to getting back into work, whether that is mental health, homelessness, caring responsibilities or refugee status. The secret is in offering free and accessible workshops to those that need them, effectively working from the ground up against social isolation and, in the longer term, unemployment.
‘This term, we have been working with six trainees in Lewisham,’ says Claudia Wessling, Chef and Trainer with Good Measure.
‘Our group have been working on muffins, biscuits, bread-baking and cakes, including a Christmas Cake coming up. These are people with very little or no experience of baking, but who are eager to learn. With the right programme and support in place, most of them will be continuing on to our vocational training which prepares them for entering the catering profession.’
The effects on trainees’ confidence seem indisputable. One of the trainees we spoke to emphasised the influence that the Good Measure approach had on her way of thinking:
‘Baking got rid of the pressure of having to do everything 100% right. I had been in [a stressful job] for eight years [that] simply wasn’t making me happy. I felt like Good Measure enabled me to break a pattern of behaviour that was making me unhappy and discover a range of new things.’
The power of the baking course was showing her that joyful activities do exist, and they can exist as part of one’s work: ‘What makes food calming is a number of things: the way you are constantly learning with food, copying others’ ideas; it’s a physical activity that engages all your senses, it’s tactile and creative … You learn intuitively, I feel it takes me away from overcomplicating things.’
With Claudia’s guidance, trainees can achieve things they would have never thought were possible before. One trainee who had struggled with severe depression spoke of how difficult that made it for him to take charge of his life: ‘If someone were to tell you to go do something, you don’t always have it in you to go and do it.’
But 12 months later, he’s hopeful of a new career in catering and planning his next steps. What changed?
The secret to the programme’s success was the baking itself: ‘you’re given the ingredients to put something together and I found it easy to motivate myself to do it so I can see the end-product. In fact, it was difficult to feel de-motivated about it!’
How you can get involved
Make sure to try the range of treats that Claudia and her fantastic trainees are preparing for the Brockley Christmas Market: Brownies, Blondies, Lemon and Almond Slices, German All-Spice Cake, Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes and small biscuit bags (think stocking fillers!), Vanilla Christmas tree cupcakes, Red Velvet Candy Cane Cupcakes, and last but not least, mini fruit Mince Pies!
Visit the Good Measure website and spread the word about this local social enterprise that is helping some of our most vulnerable community members in fulfilling their potential. You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.