The Dusty Knuckle Bakery are building a sustainable business with the aim of providing training and employment to hard-to-reach young people.
The social enterprise started life from its humble beginnings in a shipping container in London’s Hackney in 2014. It has since grown into a permanent space in Dalston – complete with a cafe and a youth employment programme – allowing for more production and a cafe space, open 6 days a week.
The Dusty Knuckle Bakery co-founder Max Tobias had spent a decade working with young people caught up in serious youth violence, while quietly nurturing his passion for bread-making.
He had managed gang prevention projects, mediated conflicts and worked on referrals from the police, but over time, the youth worker became disillusioned with charity work and the lack of funding that crucial projects received.
Max Tobias wanted to continue an active role in the community, but in a different way. Years later he got to pursue his dreams with his childhood friend, Rebecca Oliver combining forces to create something special – something that could engage young people through the process of creating exceptional food.
The Dusty Knuckle Bakery serves a range of breads, including sourdough, sandwiches, pastries and coffee for consumers. It also provides breads and pastries to restaurants across London including Smokehouse and The Good Egg.
In an interview with London On The Inside, Max Tobias said: “I worked with hard-to-reach and troubled young people for 10 years before starting the bakery. In that time I became convinced that employment – and ultimately, being in a position to be able to take responsibility for yourself and earn legitimate money – was key to taking people out of unfulfilling and antisocial lifestyles.
“I wanted to develop a more sustainable model of impact for youth that was based on a reciprocal relationship between mentor/employer and young person/beneficiary – rather than a more traditional one-way model in which young people are advised/given help but not necessarily expected to work or make changes to continue receiving the help.”
The Dusty Knuckle Bakery want a percentage of its workforce to consist of young people who have struggled to find meaningful employment. It works with young people facing barriers to financial independence: youth offenders, early school leavers and the long term unemployed.
To date, The Dusty Knuckle Bakery has given paid employment to two young people, as well as work experience to others.
A further 125 young people have benefited from the education classes in food and baking that The Dusty Knuckle Bakery have delivered in schools and youth clubs.
On the company’s website, The Dusty Knuckle Bakery write: “We are building a sustainable business that will provide training and employment to young people who are prepared to work hard and learn. We want to show them that with hard work, determination and support, they can flourish.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea