The Macaroons that make a Difference initiative has been instrumental over the past decade in providing Brits who are low in confidence, suffering mental health issues or unemployed with access to training and employment.
Hosted by Miss Macaroon, participants undergo a 10-week apprenticeship in the social enterprise’s production kitchen, working alongside professional chefs.
Birmingham-based Miss Macaroon was created in 2011 by Rosie Ginday MBE to put her training as a high-end pastry chef to good work by helping young people build confidence in themselves.
“My ultimate aim was to help youngsters break into a highly competitive industry while providing moments of sublime indulgence for my customers, who through buying our macaroons, are helping many young people to achieve their lifetime goals,” said Ginday.
The heart of the MacsMAD approach is to provide people with skills in catering, retail and marketing, while supporting their own personal development through mentoring and access to a psychotherapist and counsellor.
To date, 134 graduates have completed the programme; 64 of whom have achieved Kickstart work placements with Miss Macaroons. All graduates, though, have been successful in finding employment with local employers.
“Through our supportive and collaborative approach to all the young people on Miss Macaroon’s courses, young people – often care leavers experiencing difficulties – benefit from pastry chef training, work experience, confidence building and on-going mentoring.
“This, in turn, provides genuine career opportunities and increased self-belief via the setting and achieving of small goals, ensuring these young people can build a future for themselves.”
Gindlay said MacsMAD has been a fundamental part of Miss Macaroon’s growth – and has evolved over the past decade to reflect the different challenges that young people and adults face.
“When they start, 65% are dealing with some form of mental health issue; 12% are lone parents; and 38% have autism spectrum disorder. One in five are ex-offenders, a big priority for our ongoing support.
“They all share a desire to overcome their barriers, to learn new skills and to hopefully get into work … we just use macaroons to bake a better future for them.
“It’s a real team effort too; everyone who buys a macaroon or visits our stores are contributing to making MacsMAD a success.”
Fit for work
The most recent class of 28 students was recognised at a Graduation Ceremony held by Aston University.
Ricky Perry was the ‘Above and Beyond’ winner with his help in welcoming inductees by sharing his personal angst in overcoming extreme anxiety to become a MacsMAD Leader. Denise Worth was recognised as the Helping Hand Supporter, even helping a trainee avoid homelessness with emergency housing; and Alice Knight was named Star Ambassador for her efforts in promoting the initiative.
“It’s fantastic that we are able to recognise the achievements of 28 individuals who have completed our course and are now either in work or ready to move into their next job – many of whom were previously signed off as unfit for employment,” said Ginday.
The next step
Three of the 28 graduates have been employed by Miss Macaroon.
“I was very nervous at the start, but the whole course was welcoming and informative, giving me skills I’ll need in employment,” said Sadik Hussain, who gained a Kickstart placement in Business Admin.
“It also showed me how to behave in other jobs, which will be very useful going forward. Anxiety and fear have been replaced with excitement for my next step on the journey.”
Emily Charlton has been taken on to support new trainees.
“I feel more confident in voicing my own opinion and understanding my own self-worth in the job I have.”
Thomas Reeves won a Kickstart placement in the Kitchen.
“I have no idea why anyone would not want to take part in this programme, it has helped me so much. My message is simple for anyone who has the chance to have a go … give it a shot.”