Well... I knew we hadn't written a Bloom Blog for a while, but it wasn't until I came to write this one that I realised quite how long it's been! Back in December, we were keeping up with our little blog weekly and then... well, things got a tad crazy - in the most wonderful way! And now we're heading into an exciting season in the life of Bloom - so we'll be back posting with a bit more regularity, filling you in on the highs lows and everything in between as we get our little social enterprise off the ground.
But for now, here's a quick wrap-up of the four things we've been up to over the last few months...
Recovering from our crowd fund!
Those of you who follow our social feeds won't need us to tell you that we were crowdfunding back in December. To be honest, crowdfunding wasn't something we were very keen to do from the start.... What if it fell flat on its face? What if no one donated? What if our friends stopped liking us because we kept asking them for money....
But one desperate night back in November... Bloom was really taking off, we had two training courses running, we had market stalls and catering events booked in... we could see the difference that our work was making, and all the future potential if it continued to grow.... But we had no paid staff, and just a gang of brilliant volunteers covering our training, our trading, our accounting, our fundraising, our legals, our logistics, our marketing... and everything in between. Something needed to change. We needed a staff member on-board if Bloom was going to grow.
So we figured out the minimum figure that we could work with, that we thought might be feasible to raise from our family and friends. £9,000. And off we went with our crowd fund. Well... I could write a whole separate blog post about what happened over the next few weeks. But in short: it was incredibly hard work, but in the end amazing things happened. And we closed our campaign with an amazing £16,000. Which in reality, was a much more realistic figure for us to achieve our growth, rather than the absolute minimum of £9k we had set out to raise.
We were astounded by the support we received - in big and small ways - and it really reminded us of how much goodwill and desire to help exists, out there, if you just go looking for it.
Making Plans for Our Next Steps
After a few weeks off for Christmas, and over 100 thank you cards later... we regrouped with a BIG trustee meeting at the beginning of the year. We took everything back to basics, reviewed the big questions of why we exist, and how we were going to achieve our goals. Moving from a volunteer-powered operation to one with paid staff is a huge and exciting shift for us... and one we're keen to get right.
So we then embarked on a few weeks of scoping, exploring and planning exactly how we were going to move forwards. We ran down a few rabbit-holes, exploring avenues that didn't work out - but in the process we've distilled our focus for the next 6-12 months and we're just about ready to put it into action.
We'll be recruiting very soon for our first ever staff member to take Bloom forwards. We're just crossing the ts and dotting i's on our JD... and we'll be ready to go. We're really excited about finding the right person to work with us at this important stage of our development. So if you know anyone who loves food, loves baking and loves seeing people thrive... keep your eyes peeled on our socials.
Spring Baking Basics Course
And whilst we've been figuring out all the 'big picture' stuff, we couldn't help ourselves from still running our regular Bloom training. So we've been running one of our 6-week Baking Basics courses, aimed at anyone currently experiencing unemployment, who would like to think about working with food... We've had seven wonderful trainees join us for this course and I can't believe our 6 weeks have flown by so quickly.
It's been a great time of seeing confidence grow, passions reignited and new skills developed. We hope many of of the group will go on to take their Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Food Safety, and will join us for our advanced-level courses once our new team member is in place. We're busy planning next term's training schedule as we speak - and applications will be open soon... but in the meantime, if you'd like to express interest, for yourself or on behalf of someone else do drop us a line on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fourthly and finally... just this week, we had the privilege of being part of a fantastic one-off Pie Night held at Sparrow, the hottest culinary newcomer in the neighbourhood. Partnering with Calum Franklin, Executive Chef at the Holborn Dining Room, the Sparrow team served up an amazing three-course set menu of incredible pies - all in celebration of British Pie Week.
And as if the pies themselves weren't enough, Sparrow generously supported our work through donating half the proceeds from the night towards our courses supporting local people into employment. What's more... they offered the opportunity for one of last term's trainees to join them in the kitchen on the night. When we arrived to enjoy the pies for ourselves, it was amazing to see someone who'd started off in our humble training kitchen, now confidently piping, blowtorching and sending out Sparrow's beautiful Black Sesame and Banana Ice Cream Pie:
Catching up with our trainee yesterday, I heard what a fantastic opportunity it was and how it's helping her to think through what options there might be for her to gain employment in the hospitality sector....
It's these kind of nights that remind us what we're all about. Seeing individual progress towards become skilled, fulfilled and employed. And doing it in partnership with others in our community who share our vision. Terry, Yohini, Calum and all at Sparrow - we salute you! Thank you for being part of our journey.