In the UK, thousands of disadvantaged women struggle to find opportunities. The Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise supported by Deloitte’s One Million Futures programme, offers skills training, paid employment and a supportive community to help them thrive. Social enterprises are profit making businesses, which exist to drive positive environmental, community or social change.
Anna*, a refugee from Europe now living in London, is just one of the women whose future has been transformed thanks to the Luminary Bakery. To mark Buy Social for a Better World Week she shares her story – showing how something as simple as buying a cake with a cause can change a life.
Anna describes her first months in the UK as her darkest days. She didn’t have any qualifications and only knew a few words of English including “Hello”. It seemed there were no opportunities for someone like her.
Every day she woke up desperate to do something with her life, but it seemed that every door was closed. A friend suggested the Luminary Bakery’s six-month course. Anna had always baked at home and thought it would be great to learn and meet people, but most of all, it gave her some hope.
“I loved it. I completed every task and then thought ‘What’s next?’ It was just learning, learning, learning,” says Anna.
The journey to and from the bakery was difficult as Anna had to change trains three times and travel up to two hours. Anna is also a mother and had to juggle the course work with home life, but she didn’t give up. After graduating from the Luminary Bakery, Anna found paid employment and began to build a future step by step.
Anna adds, “Finding a job was all thanks to the people who buy Luminary Bakery cakes, which enables them to fund courses for women like me. Saying ‘thank you’ is not enough. The Luminary Bakery changed my life and gave me possibilities.”
After completing her first job, Anna decided to return to the Luminary Bakery. The course taught Anna all aspects of baking, from making cookies to cakes and quiches, but Anna’s real passion is cake decorating. She says, “It is something I can do for hours and hours! Creating something beautiful out of butter cream and icing is a feeling I cannot describe. I have always been tough on myself, but I have started to realise that I am better than I think.”
However, what has really changed since coming to Luminary three years ago, is Anna. Her English skills have improved enormously and she is no longer shy or unsure of herself and her place in the world.
Now Anna has even bigger dreams. She would like to start her own cake decoration business and also give back to other people by helping them to learn skills too.
The Luminary Bakery has grown significantly in the past three years, in fact, the team just opened a second store and training facility in Camden on 10 October, in addition to their current location in Stoke Newington, London. In the beginning, Anna said there were just seven trainees on her course. The trainer was the first person to say to her, “You can do this”. There are now 28 trainee places, who all support each other to grow and succeed every day. Anna says, “Everyone has a piece of their heart here because you never forget how it felt when they gave you a hand up in life at a time when you were so low.”
Everybody deserves a helping hand. You can help women like Anna by popping in to one of the stores for a delicious brownie or cake (Anna’s favourite is the carrot) or buying from the Luminary Bakery online store. Buying a special treat from the Luminary Bakery is the gift that keeps on giving.