This morning, 15th November, Prior’s Court officially ‘opened the market’ at the London Stock Exchange.

The prestigious market open ceremony marked the launch of a fundraising appeal for Prior's Court's ground-breaking commercial bakery at our Berkshire site, which will provide real work opportunities for young people with severe autism.

The artisan bakery will be led by a Master Baker with a workforce of young people profoundly affected by autism. This initiative provides the opportunity of work in a professional environment to develop and grow skills to become employed in the baking sector. However, we are reliant on the good will of supporters to raise funds for the total cost of the venture, which is in excess of £350,000.

Steve Fudge and Young People at London Stock Exchange EventUtilising a unique combination of specialist knowledge and best practice – in both baking and autism fields – the bakery will establish a structured, autism‐friendly environment producing high quality, organic baked produce.

For sale initially in the local community, our aim is to go beyond this with bread on the shelves of national supermarkets and a model, which can be replicated.

The picture to the left shows two of our young people, Shaun and Jenny with Steve Fudge, Master Baker at the launch.

As Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of Prior’s Court, explains:

We want to create a team of bakers with real skills and a product that tastes great. We want to challenge perceptions and raise the bar for autism employment.

Only 16% of people with autism [Source: National Autistic Society] are in full time employment across the spectrum and for those with severe autism and learning difficulties there are even fewer work opportunities. Prior’s Court has always had a commitment to building work skills and currently 75% of our 16‐25 age group has at least one work placement while at Prior’s Court onsite or offsite with the support of the local community.

We work to unlock the potential of our young people by being ambitious in our aims and in the strategies we use to ensure they achieve in every area of their lives, but this project is our most ambitious yet. Through the bakery we will provide real jobs and build skills for life and we hope that this will enable us to increase the number of people with autism in employment.

Mike Robinson, CEO

Steve Fudge baking with ShuanSteve Fudge, pictured here with Shaun, one of our young people, is a trained confectioner with a passion for biscuits; he is not only lending his commercial acumen to the project but has also given support introducing contacts, attending building design meetings and securing donations for equipment.

We're delighted that Steve has such passion for the project and after visiting Prior’s Court and meeting our young people he was keen to help:

 

 

The strengths of baking are seen in the tactile experience of baking bread, that it is easy to understand and it relies on routine activities which can be established and learned. There is a massive amount of joy in baking and that is experienced from a child through to adult and across the whole spectrum of needs. Bread making carries on throughout life and the experiences stretches across society.

Ian Murray, whose son is a resident at Prior’s Court School, has great expectations:

What Prior's Court is doing with the bakery is creating an environment that actually works with people with autism, recognising their disability but also recognising their special skills. It gives structure to life, it gives a feeling of fulfilment and it gives a routine. I'd love to see people buying a product because it's a great product and then finding out the wonderful story about how it's made and manufactured by young people with autism.

Support our Appeal

If you would like to support our Appeal, please donate below. You can also read more about the bakery project here.

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