Work is under way to build a bakery and coffee shop in Aberdeen that will offer adults with learning disabilities the opportunity to train in hospitality and baking.

The Bread Maker, which opens in September, will offer three-year training and work placements to 25 people with learning difficulties, who will work alongside staff and volunteers. The placements will be split between the coffee shop and the bakery, which will produce hand-crafted confectionery and artisan breads, such as sourdoughs and ciabatta.

Strong interest

“One of our main aims is to give people with a learning disability the same opportunities as an able-bodied person,” says general manager Donald Anderson. “We have already had 43 referrals that have registered an interest in becoming an apprentice at the bakery and the coffee shop. Referrals have come from social workers, day centres and voluntary organisations. The ultimate aim of the scheme is to secure meaningful employment for trainees in craft and in-store bakeries.”

The Bread Maker is run by the Aberdeen Day Project, a charity set up in 2000 by Dr Denis Durno, who has worked closely with children and adults with learning difficulties. The charity has raised over £900,000 from a variety of trusts and foundations to fund the project, although Anderson says the bakery aims to be self-sufficient within three years.

Placing trainees

The Bread Maker is on Rosemount Viaduct in Aberdeen in premises that were bought by a charitable trust and leased back to The Aberdeen Day Project for a peppercorn rent.

Anderson worked in supermarkets for 20 years before joining The Bread Maker, holding positions including bakery manager for Sainsbury’s. He hopes to use his links with the industry to place trainees in the future. The Bread Maker is currently being refurbished, with the bakery featuring a spiral mixer, retarder-prover and oven.

Anderson adds: “The premises at Rosemount are ideal, as it is an up-and-coming area and certainly very busy. We are looking at seating for around 28 people in the coffee shop. Things are moving forward now, and we have a busy but exciting time ahead of us. Our hopes and dreams of giving our apprentices a chance to access meaningful work and training will soon become a reality.”