A commercial bakery that trains and employs young people with severe autism has extended its product range and listings in its first year in business.

Bread & Beyond has been developed by autism charity Prior’s Court to help autistic people learn new skills.

The charity describes baking as an activity that suits the strength and skills of people with autism as it is process-driven, practical and offers an end-product that is rewarding and motivating.

The bakery, which is located at the Prior’s Court school site in Berkshire, was opened on 25 January by Great British Bake-Off semi-finalist Briony Williams. As well as supplying baked goods for the 90 young people and 500 staff at the school, products are also stocked in local stores.

Highlights of the bakery’s first 12 months include:

  • Offering regular work placements to eight young people with autism or learning difficulties. This includes young people from Prior’s Court and other learning centres. Around 50 young people have also had taster sessions;
  • Working towards creating an accredited qualification for its trainee bakers;
  • Winning the silver award for brand identity at the Food and Beverage Awards, and the Best Local Stand award at the Royal County of Berkshire Show’s food hall;
  • Expanding the number of stores stocking products, and supplying Downe House School, Hermitage, Berkshire;
  • Securing a maximum five-star hygiene rating from the Food Standards Agency;
  • Adding more products to the range and introducing seasonal lines at Easter and Christmas;
  • Selling more than 860 sourdoughs and more than 530 olive flutes.

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

“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.

Needham added that the bakery plans to partner with more local businesses and train more young people in the coming months.

Only 32% of autistic adults in the UK are in paid employment, with 16% in full-time employment.

British Baker visited Bread & Beyond shortly after it opened. See our report here.