By Jamie Scott, Catering Manager, Friends House

Two years ago, Friends House started working with the Douglas House Project (DHP) helping them to launch their social enterprise catering project, a bakery. Being a Quaker organisation, the staff at Friends House devised a set of commitments, one of these being to treat everybody equally and to work with disenfranchised groups and to help our local community.

Douglas House Project (DHP) is  part of the London Pathways Project and supports men diagnosed with personality disorder who are transitioning from hospital or prison into the community.

DHP provides a residential and outreach programme that promotes daily living skills, interpersonal coping strategies and community inclusion. The Social Care Team and the men work together closely to achieve positive outcomes. This has helped to reduce re-offending rates and improve the quality of life for the men who use the service.

The bakery provides the café here at Friends House with delicious handmade cakes, such as brownies and sponge cakes, and sweets, such as fudge. Friends House encouraged the bakery to follow the Quaker values too and ensure that as much of the raw ingredients used as possible are locally sourced, Fairtrade or organic. DHP also tries to deliver on bicycle too (a 7 mile journey to Friends House).

Providing baked goods has given the residents at DHP practical skills such as creating a business plan, gaining a Food Hygiene qualification and costing and budgeting skills. The residents at DHP are so committed to this project that they now sell products at their local market and previous residents also come back every week to help.

The Project Manager at DHP sums up what the project means to them: “The Quakers have offered our clients a purpose. They now have a qualification in food hygiene, are designing recipes, making and delivering baked goods to sell. It is, for many of them, the first time in their lives they have had structure, the first time they have been paid for the work they do, the first time they have worked with others on a project they are proud of and take responsibility for. Staff have watched them grow in confidence and self-belief because they are treated as worthwhile.”

Paul Grey, our Head of Facilities here at Friends House, visited DHP this week and witnessed the amazing difference the project has made to the lives of the men working on the project.  He said: “The men involved in the project told me today of their new trading company name ‘Chefs in the House’ and the amazing news about them investing in a new industrial mixer to allow them to keep up with the increasing demand for more products. I had the opportunity to listen to their heartfelt stories about why this social enterprise scheme has helped them as individuals as well as a community”.

DHP are still expanding their range and having invested in an industrial mixer, are now supplying us with even more products and our sister property, Swarthmoor Hall in Cumbria will also be taking products too.
 

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