How social enterprise Big River Bakery contribute to the wellbeing of its community by sharing the skills of its bakery team.

A community bakery is tasting success after securing five-figure funding to expand its retail and training operations.

Big River Bakery has secured £25k from North East Small Loan Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

Founded over eight years ago by Andy Haddon, Big River Bakery is a social enterprise which specialises in slow ferment, handmade breads, savoury goods and sweet treats made with British flours and local ingredients.

In addition, the business aims to contribute to the wellbeing of its community by sharing the skills of its bakery team and supporting those from deprived areas with pay-as-you-feel initiatives.

Having completed a crowdfunding campaign at the end of last year to support a move into larger premises, Big River Bakery relocated to a new base on Wretham Place in Shieldfield, comprising a production facility, café, retail space and training hub.

Big River Bakery founder Andy Haddon explained: “The overall idea behind the project is to make healthy local food affordable for everyone, to use baking as a means of bringing diverse communities together and to help create pathways to employment.

Moving into the new premises was a huge step for us, and we believe we are unique in the region and possibly in the UK in having all our different facilities together in a single location.

Commenting on the funding, Andy continued: “Scaling up our operations in these bigger premises meant we needed more equipment to meet the customer demand we’re expecting, and NEL’s support was critical in this respect.

Going through the application process was challenging, but it enabled us to review our development strategy with the NEL team’s help and we came out with a stronger business plan as a result.

The bakery is part of the North East LEP’s Scaleup Programme and has created several new jobs within its growing core team as its operations have expanded.

Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East LEP, added: “The Scaleup North East programme works with businesses with the hunger and potential to achieve high levels of growth.

Big River Bakery has just that and it is fantastic to watch its upwards trajectory as the company moves forward with its ambitious plans.”

The above article by Jane Imrie first published on bdaily.co.uk in Oct, 2020.