Shehan Perera – Content Manager at Social Enterprise UK
Anfield is famous for being the home of Liverpool FC but its also becoming famous for its pies, more specifically for the pies being sold at an incredible social enterprise next door.
The story of Homebaked Bakery is one of a community coming together in the face of adversity to breath life into a cherished local institution and take local development into their own hands after years of neglect by government.
The area around Anfield is home to a proud sense of community and at its heart was Mitchells Bakery, selling pies to locals and to football fans on match-days. However a lack of investment in Liverpool coupled with what has been described as Westminster’s controlled decline of the city resulted in people moving out of the area, rising unemployment and boarded up housing. Mitchell’s Bakery was forced to closed.
In 2002 the area was identified as a ‘market-failure’ with properties designated to be demolished and rebuilt under the Housing Market Renewal Initiative. When this scheme was pulled in 2010, the area was effectively abandoned.
Taking regeneration into their own hands
What followed was an ambitious attempt by members of the local community to save the bakery and take ownership of the local area to steer development to benefit residents. It all started with an arts project, 2 up 2 down, which worked with local people to rent out the bakery space and use it as a site for public discussion on planning the future of the area. It was decided by residents that the bakery should be re-opened as a community led business and in June 2012 Homebaked Bakery Co-operative was formed. The following year a community land trust (CLT) was formed to take on responsibility for the development of the bakery building and future community assets.
In October 2013, Homebaked Bakery was opened as a social enterprise dedicated to feed, employ and train the local community with an absolute commitment to improve the local area. The bakery’s strapline is ‘more than a pie’ with the shop employing local people, running training courses and using the space as a hub for the community. What started as a small business has now grown to a thriving social enterprise which was turning over £500,000 a year pre-pandemic, employing 16 people and supporting many more through its training programmes. 90% of the business’s income came directly through trading. Football income from matchdays is used to subsidies affordable prices and the business’s pies have attracted national fame and recognition, being placed in the top three medal winners at the British Pie Awards three years running (the Oscars of the pie industry!). The bakery also works with other local institutions such as schools and nurseries and has a strong connection with the football club next door.
At the heart of the community response to the pandemic
When COVID hit, it could have been disastrous for a business whose revenue was based considerably on football income, but the bakery responded to the pandemic with the innovation and commitment to the people it supports that is such a big characteristic of the social enterprise movement.
Homebaked Bakery has been a constant source of support for the community. The shop supplied 3,000 freshly baked loaves and a 1,000 bread rolls to local foodbanks and pantries and worked with a local school to organise a community led response to the delivery of free school meals. This resulted in 150 kids receiving five freshly prepared meals and healthy food parcels for seven weeks. The bakery even managed to launch a new community training programme over the pandemic.
To keep sales coming in a takeaway service was launched and treat boxes were also created for keyworkers. In the last year, Homebaked Bakery still managed to turnover £400,000 with 60% of that coming from traded income.
The bakery is emerging out of the pandemic with ambitious plans for the future, looking to increase pie production beyond 3,000 a week, build up stronger links with both Liverpool FC and Everton and it is continuing to find more mores to feed, employ and support the local community.
With the government talking about the need to level up the country, Homebaked Bakery has shown how a community can take local development into its own hands and on its own terms. The CLT responsible for the bakery plans to manage the provision of affordable homes in the future – building on the bakery’s success continues to be at the heart of community led regeneration.