At Stoneham Bakehouse we have wellbeing at the very heart of what we do. We strive to support the wellbeing of the those we work with through making bread. Over the last few months we’ve developed a great project which has been helping tackle isolation amongst older members of the community. Our Bread Shed project, as its called, has been a great success, positively impacting on peoples’ lives.
“I’ve lost several members of my family. So I felt totally isolated. The Bakehouse has opened up a bit of a social life for me, which I thoroughly enjoy.”
We bake, we chat, we connect; and I’m really pleased to say we’ll be continuing to do so into the Autumn and the New Year, thanks to a grant from Hove & Portslade Aid in Sickness Association, as well as the money received from Waitrose’s Community Matters scheme. We really appreciate this support, and thank you if you shopped at Waitrose and gave us your green token vote. With your help we’ll be able to give more people the chance to experience how baking can build confidence and help tackle isolation.
With wellbeing in mind we’ll be taking our usual Summer break during the second half of August. Our last bake before the break will be on August 4th, with us returning to bake in September. During this time we’ll be getting on with some maintenance and planning, as well as giving us a chance to spend time with families and friends. Thanks so much for all of your support over the last few months. We really appreciate it. Have a great Summer.
We’re very proud to be a community business. Geographically located in the Poets’ Corner area of Hove, we also draw most of our fabulous volunteers from the community. But it’s not just that that makes us a community supported bakery.
We exist because a crowd of 273 people, 75% of whom live locally, backed our Crowdfunder. They not only pledged their financial support, but gave us so much more – confidence we were wanted, their custom, their support. A year on (Saturday was our first birthday), we feel like we really belong. Thank you to our Crowdfunders, thank you to our fabulous customers.
Thank you, because by buying our bread, coming to our breadmaking workshops, just sharing what we do, you are helping us to nourish the community’s wellbeing. Since opening on Stoneham Road, we’ve baked tens of thousands of loaves, bagels, and buns, but we’ve also used breadmaking to support people’s wellbeing. We’ve worked with approximately 120 individuals from groups working with young carers, school children, retired people, employment support claimants. All these people have benefitted from working with dough, producing bread, and socialising with others.
Splitting our week between bread sales and these workshops means we can nourish the community – with our delicious bread, but with the therapeutic nature of baking too.
Last week was a real snapshot of what the Bakehouse is all about. On Tuesday morning I ran a workshop for people wanting to learn about breads made with olive oil. We baked some great fougasse and focaccia, and enjoyed pizza for lunch. Sitting and eating with people is such a powerful experience. With food in their hands, conversations are had, experiences shared. During the afternoon I met with one of our super volunteers to chat about plans for the future and growing our team. I love how others are so enthusiastic and committed to the project.
Wednesday morning saw the Bakehouse open its doors to the children from the Lion Care School. It’s a little local school hidden away in Poets’ Corner which offers a program of education for children with complex social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties, and who are outside mainstream schooling. I worked with a small group making breadsticks and flatbreads. The pride and excitement they showed as their breads came out of the oven was uplifting.
Wednesday afternoons are dough prep for the Thursday bake, and we’re lucky to have Zac joining us on a volunteer placement from Team Domenica. They support young adults with learning difficulties in getting into employment. It’s a great project, and Zac’s going to be working with us for the next few months gaining experience of baking bread.
Our volunteer team baked throughout Thursday, Friday and Saturday, producing amazing bread. Not only that, but we chatted, laughed, and made connections.
For a long while we’ve looked at the Bakehouse’s impact on wellbeing in response to the NEF’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing. This week we’ve connected with a new group within our community. We’ve been active, shaping kilos of dough into loaves, buns and bagels. We’ve been able to give children the chance to bake. We’ve taken notice of the loaves as they come out of the oven, children delighting in the crackles of the loaf. And finally we’ve learnt (or maybe been reminded) how baking bread can help nourish a community.
The Bakehouse team is going to be taking a short break next week, resuming baking on the 31st August. It’ll be 100 days since we opened this Saturday, and with wellbeing at the heart of our venture, we need to spend a few days with family and friends to recharge the batteries (we’ll also be planning some exciting developments for the Bakehouse in the months to come).
We’ll be open as usual 10-1pm and 2:30-4pm this week (Thursday 17th – Saturday 19th), so please do come and visit before our break. You may even want to stock up your freezer with a loaf or two.
Our bread freezes really well (in fact many customers already buy bread to freeze). Wrap the loaves tightly in cling film so they don’t dry out in the freezer, then defrost for a great loaf whilst we’re away.
As many of our customers have told us, our bread lasts really well, being good for toast for a good number of days after baking. Real Bread (like ours) with none of the commercial additives will be useable for a good while. It will gradually dry out, but then its fabulous for making croutons, breadcrumbs, or dishes like bruschetta. For more ideas for using your old bread check out this link.
Community involvement in Stoneham Bakehouse is part of our ethos, we want to be able to help nourish the community. In September we will be starting to work with a few new organisations. The Lion Care School on Payne Avenue will be joining us to bake, as well as pupils coming down to the Bakehouse to buy their bread each week. We’re also looking to work with the Trust for Developing Communities to run a baking group for some of the areas’ older residents.
It’s exciting to see these community projects getting off the ground; using the therapeutic nature of bread making to support wellbeing.