25 Aug Bramber Bakehouse: A Second Chance for Exploited Women
An Artisan Bakery Rebuilding Lives which have been Affected by Injustice
In an age of rising social and moral anxiety, where cases of exploitation are more prevalent in the public eye and demands for justice are increasing, there has never been a more pressing time for charitable organisations to provide services for those caught in exploitative situations. Despite the urgent need, there remains a large void in support services, a void originally noticed by our Bramber team some years ago. As a result, Bramber Bakehouse was born to play our part. To give exploited women second chances, to bridge the current gap and provide training and support that would continually encourage them towards a positive future.
Bramber Bakehouse currently provides 6-month workshops, with a view to create internships in the future. The workshop programmes, which are made up of 50% baking time and 50% wider training, are constructed to give women the best chance of recuperation and include one-to-one mentoring, support with life skills including budgeting and career advice and offer opportunities to make new friends and have fun.
Throughout this experience I have learnt to question what I know and to look to the women in question for guidance rather than the business model. I have found it is crucial to be flexible, to recognise that perhaps there might be other ways to offer help. Not to categorise individuals that need help as perhaps ‘weak’ or to assume they are not capable of certain tasks but instead believe in what they can achieve, tailor your work to their requirements and offer guidance where they feel they need it most. Too often we can assume we are the experts but the real experts are the individuals themselves.
Last year I also personally took a year out to study a Masters Degree in Anthropology, exploring causes of why women sometimes fail to transition effectively back into British society once they have left an exploitative environment – the purpose being to understand what else could be done and how else Bramber Bakehouse could offer support. Essentially, results showed the lack of long-term provision within the UK as a central issue (precisely why Bramber Bakehouse exists today), that the way charities deal with individuals can be extremely empowering if done correctly, but can perpetuate a negative mentality if not, and that media representations often distort the truth causing grave confusion. Some individuals who have faced exploitation, for example, do not fit the description found in news headlines but rather are strong, intelligent women who perhaps had a string of unfortunate circumstances. These lessons have been important in our journey so far and have aided our perspectives and understanding along the way.
I have also learnt that attempting to tackle areas of exploitation requires perseverance and passion, strength and tenacity, but also, fundamentally, requires partnership and collaboration. When shouldering the weight of this topic a united front is of the utmost importance. I learnt that despite differences, we all need each other to be able to provide such a service. That everyone has something different to offer and all skills are priceless, we all have a place. For the Bramber team, some are talented with logistics or are mean-bakers, others gifted at administration or are natural wordsmiths, some are nifty with design or (like me) some love a good spreadsheet. It’s through our diversity that Bramber Bakehouse exists.
Looking ahead, the Bramber Bakehouse workshops are just the beginning and we are excited for the future. It has taken a little while to reach this stage but taking time, being strong, well-structured and ready for the challenges ahead is our way of ensuring we offer the best possible service to those who need it most.
Central to our philosophy is a passion to see women who have been exploited set free. It runs through all that we do and every cake that we bake.
Liz Trumper recently graduated with an MA in Anthropology of Development and Social Change from the University of Sussex. As well as being the Finance Co-ordinator for Bramber Bakehouse, she has worked in marketing in Bolivia, France, Fiji, and now in the UK for Language Teaching Centres, visiting partners in Latin America and the Middle East.