John Lewis funding tastes good for Miss Macaroon

A Birmingham social enterprise that has made 2.5million macaroons for global brands, royalty and a host of celebrities is celebrating ten years in business this week.

Miss Macaroon has grown from a desire to use macaroons to help people back into work into one of the city’s leading employability programmes and a destination food venue for local people and visitors.

Formed by pastry chef Rosie Ginday, the business has secured a £150,000 grant from the John Lewis Partnership’s Community Investment Fund.

The financial boost will be used to pay the wages of the recent MacsMAD (Macaroons that make a Difference) graduates and support a further 20 graduates as they continue to overcome barriers, including anxiety and learning disabilities, to access paid employment and mainstream jobs.

In the last decade, it means that 82 young people, from 18 to 35-years-old, will have been assisted by Miss Macaroon, developing cooking, administrative, sales and marketing skills and experience along the way.

“A lot has happened since I set the business up with £500 and a bit of kitchen space donated by University College Birmingham,” said Ginday.

“In the last ten years, we have made over 2.5million macaroons in 50 different flavours, opened our own macaroon and prosecco bar in Great Western Arcade and had our products enjoyed by celebrity chef James Martin, TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as part of their engagement tour.

“We’ve even built a complete wall of macaroons for Instagram and had Glynn Purnell from Purnells and Saturday Kitchen, the Wilderness’ Alex Claridge and Bake Off’s Daryl Collins support our MacsMAD trainees through mentoring sessions and work experience placements.

“Like many businesses, Covid-19 has caused us lots of issues and things have been very tough, but we have been able to keep the MacsMAD course going during the lockdowns. This latest funding boost from John Lewis means we can extend the level of support we can offer our most recent graduates and some of the 60 young people we expect to support over the next two years.

“They are the people we set the business up for and they remain our main priority. The shop and our sales just go into funding the programme and the assistance we can give them once they’re graduating. They’re the real heart of our social enterprise.”

Miss Macaroon’s MacsMAD programme is run over ten weeks, five spent training and five covering on-the-job experience, with individuals able to choose between catering and retail.

Every new starter receives wellbeing at work sessions and access to a psychotherapist, who will support them to overcome barriers that have prevented them from working in the past.

Corporate partners, including Hotel du Vin, Marriott Hotels, McDonald’s Restaurants and Resorts World provide ‘Welcome to Work’ tours and mentor talks to inspire trainees to reach for a career in hospitality.

The idea is to give them transferrable skills, self-confidence and the chance to gain valuable experience that will hopefully lead to full-time employment with the business or other mainstream employers.

Ginday said: “In addition to the MacsMAD programme, we’ve got a host of other ideas planned to help us celebrate our 10th birthday in style. These range from the grand reopening of our newly refurbished bar and launching new vegan macaroons, to extending our social enterprise drink providers and hosting a major party – of course when we’re allowed to do so.

“There has been a 195% increase in online sales during Covid-19, so our macaroons have been going further than ever before and this is something we’ll look to build on going forward. Ten years is a great achievement, but we’re already looking forward to how we can make the next decade even more successful.

“Every penny we make in profit is invested in helping unemployed young people gain skills that will change their lives and this will always be at the heart of what we do and the macaroons we make.”

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