'We're hoping for a miracle' - Financial crisis leaves staff at Pontefract's The Real Bread Company desperate for help

Staff at an independent bakery are ‘hoping for a miracle’ as they face a financial crisis.

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 1:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 1:52 pm

The Real Bread Company, on Gillygate, are run by a local charity, The Pontefract Family Centre, and offer employment and skills to people with learning difficulties by baking artisan bread to sell.

The cafe opened in 2015 after the directors of Pontefract Family Centre decided to look into social enterprising.

Chairman John Hughes said: “We failed, we haven’t made the amount we expected to make.

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Staff at an independent bakery are hoping for a miracle as they face a financial crisis.

“We employ adults with learning disabilities to cook under supervision of two adults.

“We’re not getting the people in thought we would, we’ve failed from a charity point of view, people we thought would support us haven’t done that.

“To keep the cafe and bakery running, we need to take in £1,500 a week to pay three wages, manager, assistant manager and one member of staff with learning difficulties.

“We have one lease to pay, as well as lighting and heating.

Charity: The cafe is run by the Pontefract Family Centre, who support adults with learning difficulties in the Five Towns area.

“Last year in our busiest week we were taking in a maximum of £800 weekly, it got to the point where we were just about meeting costs excluding the manager’s wages.”

The cafe received some of its resources through funding from the council, including a new oven and a new door.

Councillor Clive Tennant said: “Local Councillors have in the past have given grants to get a new kitchen and entrance door to the Real Bread Company Café.

“I’ve assured John we would do whatever we can to keep the café open and looking into getting other grants, however there needs to be more customers using the facility to sustain it.”

Mr Hughes said: “It hasn’t quite worked out how initially planned, but we cannot criticise the local authority.

“Whether we could have done more on social media to promote the cafe, I don’t know, but as it stands we cannot afford to keep it open, which is a shame, but we will be out of funding on March 15.

“The staff all know it’s coming, it’s not secret- they’re writing to everyone and campaigning as they wish, I’m attempting to answer any questions that come up but we’re all hoping for a miracle at this point.”

Staff are trying their hardest to gain community support through social media.

One of the members of staff, Claire Healy, said: “I work voluntarily.

“I love my job and my bosses, it’s heartbreaking to think I won’t be working there anymore.

“I’ve learned new skills and made new friends, we are like a big family.

“In all the years I’ve worked there, I’ve enjoyed mostly every day.

“I’ve never once thought I don’t want to come to work.”