In Bristol, on the 27th May 2019 Step and Stone found out that they had won £49,750 in the National Lottery-funded People’s Projects (West Country East category). Cheers went up as the young bakers, volunteers, and co-founders – Jane Kippax and Jane Chong – celebrated their success. Thanks to the votes of long-term supporters, friends, family, and those who had recently become aware of the project, Step and Stone now has the opportunity to expand and give work experience to more young people with learning difficulties. This experience is essential, especially for those who leave school with all the necessary qualifications for work, but are unable to find a job due to a lack of work experience.

According to Mencap, just 6% of those with a learning difficulty in the UK are in paid work – something which Jane and Jane set out to change when they started Step and Stone in from Wednesday to Friday, young disabled bakers learn to make 5 different flavours of Step and Stone’s award-winning lavosh flatbreads, which are then sold in fine food shops and artisan food markets. This experience helps these young people to learn many of the necessary skills needed for future employment, including working to a schedule, following health and safety regulations, and working as part of a team, and there is a great deal of emphasis placed on developing each individual’s skills. Not only that, a number of the young people have gone on to find employment through their connections with Step and Stone.

New Job Roles

The last 12 months have been a whirlwind for Step and Stone, but even more so for some of their young bakers who have recently started their own new chapter in paid employment. Last year, Tom started work in Greggs, using the experience and skills he gained at Step and Stone’s bakery to land him this role. When asked about his job, Tom says that “It makes me happy and proud.” Meanwhile, another of their bakers, India Russell, is loving her new role at the Environment Agency in Bristol and notes how “I love my job.”

Taste of the West Approved

Last year Step and Stone entered their best-selling Rosemary and Sea Salt lavosh into the Taste of the West Awards, and were absolutely thrilled to be awarded Gold and, even better, Champion of the Savoury Bakery category, as well as the award for Best Newcomer and runner-up for the Best Branding title! Says Jane Kippax “ We are thrilled to have such strong recognition from Taste of the West, it really serves to lift perceptions of just what our fabulous bakers are capable of!” And this year Step and Stone has won even more accolades from Taste of the West, with Classic being awarded Gold, and Smoked Paprika and Cayenne bagging Silver.

Plans for the Future

Step and Stone now works with 24 young bakers, but are getting enquiries weekly from young people interesting in joining Step and Stone. As Jane Chong says, “Winning The People’s Projects award has come at a perfect time for us: it will allow us to expand our operation so that we can work with 50 to 60 young bakers, helping even more young people with learning disabilities into paid employment, really empowering them and improving lives.”

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