Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Home-made for the home-less

April 15 2011
Cupcakes and training for the Midlands

 

Frost and Snow Cupcake Bakery, established in 2010, offer us the cake with a conscience thanks to social entrepreneur Sarah Frost and housing group Midland Heart.

The social enterprise was born as part of a larger £10 million regeneration project in Snow Hill - a re-development of self-contained flats for the homeless with a bakery to employ the residents nestled underneath.

The key to social enterprise is that it operates like a business - it has to make a profit to survive. What makes it 'social' is the way the revenue is spent: this money is reinvested back into the social heart of the organisation. Frost and Snow makes and sells beautiful (and delicious!) cupcakes, but its true objective is to create training and job opportunities for people who have experienced homelessness and want to work.

The bakery takes on two volunteers at a time for a 12-week training programme. During this period, they are taught invaluable key skills to allow them to progress into full-time employment. Frost involves the trainees in every aspect of the business, from marketing and research to sales and administration - she believes this technique allows each person to begin to find out what they excel at. They can then be encouraged to progress in these areas.

The bakery’s first volunteer, Craig Finch, got involved in the project as part of his rehabilitation programme after leaving prison. Living at a hostel run by Midland Heart, Finch came to Frost and Snow after applying for over 300 jobs with no success. “Sarah gave me the opportunity to prove myself”, he explains. Where others have closed their doors, Frost and Snow gives those who have experienced homelessness a chance to get themselves back into the job market.

They are now on their third cohort of trainees. Three out of the four previous workers have gone on to full-time employment. Finch now works for a utilities company but regularly comes back to volunteer for the bakery. Sarah explains how this type of behaviour demonstrates the committed work ethic the volunteers learn on the programme. “It's been so exciting to see our trainee's grow in confidence and skill as the weeks go by. I'm really proud of their attitude towards work, and getting back into employment. Each week they become more self-assured in the kitchen, and it's always wonderful to see creativity at play”.

As 'The Snow Hill' is still in development, Frost and Snow currently operate online and at markets and one-off events such as The Clothes Show. February saw the social enterprise head to the city centre for a Valentine’s Day promotion with a stand in The Pavilions Shopping Arcade - they sold more than 550 cupcakes over the weekend. All profits are re-invested to help the homeless community in Birmingham.

”We are not an ordinary bakery. We are hoping that everyone will love our cupcakes and, those that do, will be making a real difference to the lives of homeless people,” explains Sarah. “The bonus is that every purchase contributes to creating opportunities to help previously homeless people to get back on their feet... and profits will be used to support the homeless to regain their independence”.

If you have experienced homelessness and want a slice of the action, call Sarah on 0845 603 6166 or 07827 232 820 to find out more.

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