On Wednesday 18th November hvoss-Herefordshire will be hosting their hvoss ‘BBO 12 hour Bake Off Bonanza’ from 8am-8pm, to raise funds for hvoss and to print two books written over lockdown. This exciting challenge is the culmination and celebration of 7 months of online baking workshops. Staff members and 8 of our participants will be taking part over zoom.

BBO Herefordshire works with people aged 19+ years across Herefordshire who are experiencing multiple barriers, resulting in social exclusion. The project helps participants gain skills and develop confidence through intensive personalised support to equip them with the abilities needed to move towards and into employment. They also provide access to a wide and diverse range of volunteering opportunities, enabling more disadvantaged people to move into further education or training having acquired basic skills, increased confidence and increased motivation. This project is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

This has been a challenging time for the people they work with, many of them are isolated, shielding and often living alone with a range of physical and mental health challenges. During the first national lockdown BBO moved activities online to enable social engagement to continue. Along with their employability workshops and 1:2:1 support they started some virtual social events to help people make friends and help feel connected, one of the ways they found to do this was through their weekly baking workshops. They have developed into a positive and fun way to support people.

At the start many people had never baked before, were not IT literate and several are blind, so we had to support each other to find new ways of working together, be fully involved and stay connected, developing a sense of purpose and achievement. As we enter a second lockdown this event will celebrate all we have overcome and our continued commitment to support one another to promote mental well being and ease feelings of social isolation.

The funds they raise for hvoss will enable them to keep staff working from home and supporting people in the community. The money will be specifically used to pay for publication of two books we created with participants over lockdown. Book 1. Stories from Lockdown’- interviews held with participants exploring their life experiences before, during and after lockdown and how the BBO project has enabled them to overcome some of the difficulties they faced during this time. Book 2. BBO Baking Book with recipes made in our workshops. During the workshops individuals in the group have led the bakes, building confidence and sharing skills and ideas.