Awards, thousands of products sold, and, most importantly, providing dozens of young people with autism and learning difficulties the chance to develop baking skills – it has been a busy first year for Bread & Beyond, with plenty more still to come.

On Friday, 25 January, 2019, Great British Bake-Off semi-finalist Briony Williams was the special guest who cut the ribbon to officially open Prior’s Court’s ground-breaking venture.

In the 12 months since, highlights include:

  • Offering regular work placements to eight young people with autism or learning difficulties, giving them the opportunity to learn and develop skills. This number includes young people from both Prior’s Court and other learning centres. Around 50 young people have also had taster sessions.
  • Working towards creating an accredited qualification for our trainee bakers.
  • Winning the silver award for brand identity at the Food and Beverage Awards, and the Best Local Stand accolade at the Royal County of Berkshire Show’s food hall.
  • Expanding our number of stockists to Hog & Hedge, in the centre of Newbury; Casey Fields Farm Shop, in Ashampstead; and Yattendon Village Stores, as well as supplying Downe House School, in Hermitage.
  • Securing the maximum five-star hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency.
  • Adding more products to our range, and introducing seasonal creations at Easter and Christmas.

In terms of sales of products, in the past year, more than 860 sourdoughs and more than 530 of our olive flutes alone have been sold.

Dylan Needham, Artisan Bakery Manager, said: “It has been a hugely productive first year for Bread & Beyond, but we are very much still at the beginning of our journey.

“The most important achievement is the huge progress the young people we have worked with have made as that is the reason why the bakery exists. Many of our first ‘batch’ of trainee bakers have now moved on from Prior’s Court, but we are delighted to hear the skills they have developed with us – and at Prior’s Court as a whole – are being used in the provision they are now at.

“Over the coming months, the aim is build on these successes by partnering with more local businesses and introducing more young people to the bakery, providing them with vital skills which will help them to gain employment.”

Only 32% of autistic adults in the UK are in any kind of paid employment, despite over 80% stating a clear wish to work. Just 16% are in full-time employment.*

Baking is an activity which suits the strength and skills of people with autism; highly process driven, practical, and with an end product which is rewarding and motivating. 

While the bakery shop is not open to the general public, Bread & Beyond products are available at a number of outlets across the West Berkshire area, including Hog & Hedge, in the centre of Newbury; Casey Fields Farm Shop, in Ashampstead; and Yattendon Village Stores. We also supply all the bread and baked goods on the Prior’s Court site, catering for around 90 young people and 500 staff members, as well as supplying bread to nearby Downe House School, in Hermitage.

*Figures from National Autistic Society research in 2016.