Northampton bakery charity on a roll to help hundreds of women break the unemployment cycle

L-R: Clare Vernon and Charlie Batchelor both work at The Good Loaf after seeking support.
L-R: Clare Vernon and Charlie Batchelor both work at The Good Loaf after seeking support.
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In two years, a Northampton-based charity has helped more than 300 women - who have faced challenges in their lives - regain their confidence and find work beyond the bread line.

Established in July 2015, The Good Loaf in Overstone Road, Upper Mounts is a social enterprise, which bakes and delivers hand-made bread to Northampton firms every day as well as providing six-week work programme and job opportunities for women at the on-site cafe.

The cafe offers diners a tasty menu - with sandwiches and toasties all made with artisan bread baked on site.

The cafe offers diners a tasty menu - with sandwiches and toasties all made with artisan bread baked on site.

As well as on the job experience, the feminist organisation allows the women to complete a food hygiene certificate, bag an accredited qualification and a work reference.

The bakery charity is the trading arm of C2C Social Action - which operates in the same building as The Good Loaf - and supports people facing a variety of different challenges in their lives.

In a bid to help the women get their lives back on track, a one-stop- shop women's centre is also on site, with probation, drug and alcohol and domestic abuse workers.

Clare Vernon, 35, originally lived in London and turned to the charity for help after she moved to Northampton with her son following their eviction from the capital.

Suzy Van Rooyen, CEO of C2C Social Action and The Good Loaf.

Suzy Van Rooyen, CEO of C2C Social Action and The Good Loaf.

She said: "In London there was a bit of trouble with gangs, so I thought let’s move him out of London. I was homeless as well so I didn’t have anywhere to live."

After Clare was evicted from her home she moved to Northampton and resided in a hostel with her son before being forced out again, but this time in an unknown town with no friends.

"To cut a long story short, things had gone awol between me and my son and we got kicked out of the hostel. I was literally then homeless, in a big town and didn’t know anybody," she said.

"A guy that I met previously - that cut my son's hair - said that he knew of an organisation, which turned out to be C2C so I met him, with another lady, and they brought me here and I spoke to Suzy. I gave Suzy the low down on my life and they have houses, which they have their women living in from C2C - they have sheltered housing called Stepping Stones.

The Good Loaf CIC can be found on the first floor at their building in Overstone Road.

The Good Loaf CIC can be found on the first floor at their building in Overstone Road.

"At that time I was feeling really low with myself, I was evicted moved away from my family, fallen out with friends and family, the only person I was up here with was my son."

Funded by The Big Lottery, Clare enrolled onto a 12-week course at The Good Loaf back in September 2016 and did voluntary work one day a week in the kitchen.

"With the work programme they help you get your confidence back, it’s nice getting up every single day. I did about ten copies of my CV, and went into town and handed them out. Two days later I got a job and I’m still there now."

Clare now lives in an enhanced house with her friend - who also works at The Good Loaf - and is on a 22-hour contract at the bakery where she works as kitchen manager on Mondays while holding down another job in a shop.

Suzy Van Rooyen, CEO of C2C Social Action, and The Good Loaf started her career as a support worker helping youngsters in custody with drug and alcohol issues. She said she never thought the project would be so popular.

She said: "The charity works with offenders specifically and it was kind of through our work that we realised that it was quite hard for offenders to get voluntary opportunities, let alone job opportunities, because of the range of issues they face and chaos that comes with that lifestyle, and also just having something on your DBS. The charity always wanted something to generate some income but definitely wanted to make sure that it helped people we worked with.

"We have some people where paid work is not what they’re looking for but it’s routine and getting out the house.

"We have some people who stay on benefits - they might have health problems or something - but they just come in one day a week and they say that it really helps them. Some people might opt to come in on a Saturday because perhaps that is when they before used to binge drink."

The social enterprise now employs over 30 staff in both organisations.

You can donate to The Good Loaf here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/good-loaf/