Freedom Bakery is a social enterprise based at HMP Low Moss near Glasgow, training prisoners in artisan baking on the job, with the intention of finding an industry-related career post-release. This process utilises sustainable skills-based education to increase employability and decrease the risk of reoffending of our graduates. By producing fantastic baked goods made using traditional artisan methods and the best ingredients available, our dedicated team are working towards freedom.
We work with people who would otherwise have little or no opportunities in life, using their incarceration as an opportunity to allow the discovery of themselves as confident, valuable members of society as well as confident baking and catering professionals. Graduates attain an SVQ 2 in Craft Bakery, instantly increasing their employability factor with an industry-recognised qualification. Sustainable employment has been shown to decrease reoffending dramatically. For every ex-offender who can stay in employment the Scottish taxpayer is saved £940,000 per individual. We receive no public funding, instead choosing to run as self-sustaining business.
Our current bakery is within HMP Low Moss, is very small and contained in the main prison kitchen complex. We have two full time bakers training and working with our six apprentices 5 days a week from 8am-4pm, and what they are producing is superb. Learning on the job, they are churning out incredibly high quality produce that is delivered direct from the prison to our wholesale and retail customers across Glasgow. The genuine demand for what we produce is evidence of the skills, talents and the value of the people behind the baking, their aspirations and their worth once rehabilitated back into society.
Demand is growing enormously, which is fantasitc. However based solely inside the prison we are beginning to find capacity is limited. Most bakeries can delivery early in the morning, we can only deliver after 12 o’ clock. Most bakeries have a 20 hour working day, we only have 8 hours to play with. Most bakeries are easily visited by customers, we are not. And we want to change all this so that we can grow as a business and our apprentices can grow as bakers and as people. That is where Operation Breakout comes in – we want to expand to fulfil customer demand and in turn allow the whole programme and our people to thrive! We want to take Freedom Bakery to the next step.
This crowdfunding campaign aims to raise £15,000 to enable us to ‘break out’ of the prison and into a second 'outside' unit - Freedom 2! We will still have our prison bakery, and it will continue to supply our retail customers as usual - but the bakery on the outside will take on our wholesale orders, cutting out our limitations and enabling us to increase our production and revenue to put back into the people we're training. A second premises will mean we can operate like a normal bakery, with standard operating hours and convenient delivery times.
Freedom 2 will be a functioning artisan bakery and more. It will be here that we produce our wholesale breads and pastries for cafes, restaurants and shops – but also where we open our doors to the general public. We will offer artisan baking classes to the public with our team, there will also be space for small-scale events such as on-site supper clubs and tastings. Our office will be on site, and if the space is big enough we will have a small shop stocking not only our baked goods but also a range of local produce. All of this will ultimately bring us closer to the public (you!), and enable us to engage with different groups in the community. We think Freedom should be for everyone - our expansion will make this possible.
It might seem a little confusing, but being outside doesn't mean prisoners can't work at Freedom 2 - in fact it means more will, on community placement. Current apprentices at Low Moss can still work at our outside bakery, and will be working alongside people who have finished their sentence, as well as those currently on day and home release. Although we already organise post-release employment opportunities, for the prisoners inside it will provide a more concrete light at the end of the tunnel, and a taste of freedom on the outside.