Is it time for you to take action in your country and how can we help you?
The Real Bread Campaign is run by the UK food and farming charity Sustain. Since our launch in 2008, we’ve gained supporters and other friends around the globe.
It’s now time for us to accept our limitations and that the focus of our work is in the UK. While we continue to welcome everyone to join our international network, and can help to spread information and inspiration worldwide, our small charity doesn’t have the capacity to run national projects from afar.
The international passion for Real Bread, and shared dismay at much of what is marketed as ‘bread’, was highlighted to us most recently by more than 80 Campaign ambassador applications we received from people in around 20 countries. We also see our annual Real Bread Week and Sourdough September initiatives generate international media coverage and social media posts from many more countries each year.
We’ve long understood that the people best placed to identify problems and appropriate solutions in a country or region, then build a network and rally local support for the cause to take action, aren’t people in a country far away. They are the people living through those issues in that place; knowing its histories, cultures, languages and politics; building networks and collectively deciding the most appropriate action to take.
We’re now looking at what we might be able to do to help inform and inspire people outside the UK to set up their own national, regional or more local Real Bread campaigns/projects/groups to address the specific challenges they face.
This might involve us:
Our role might also include facilitating conversations between would-be founders/leaders of national/regional Real Bread campaigns/projects/groups, with those in other countries.
As a starting point, this background information might be of use, or at least interest, to people setting up Real Bread networks.
Inspired by the work of the Real Bread Campaign’s co-founder, and Bread Matters author, Andrew Whitley, the way that the charity Sustain started to build our network included setting up a website to present our beliefs, aims and plans. We also created the Real Bread Map to help bakers list, and shoppers to find, places to buy additive-free loaves. This now also includes baking classes and places to buy equipment and flour from independent mills. We also set up a mailing list with an open invitation for everyone to sign up for free email updates from us.
We then started contacting professional bakers, millers, farmers, food campaigners/activists and other people who we thought might share our interests, aims and beliefs. We invited them to meetings to discuss, and help us decide, the key issues that needed addressing, what action to take, and to start finding examples of good practice we could help to share.
This is the bigger picture upon which our annual work plan is based.
We define Real Bread as made without additives. From this simple, universally-accessible starting point, we work to find and share ways of making bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. We work towards a future in which everyone has the chance to choose Real Bread.
Solutions / activity
In the future we are working with others to help create:
We consider our wider network to be our friends. They include people signed up to our free mailing list, people who have added their details to the Real Bread Map and people who follow/like us on social media. Within this are our supporters, the people who help to fund our charity’s work by making an annual payment of between £22.50 and £110 a year.
Initially, the Real Bread Campaign was run by volunteers, supported by members of Sustain’s staff. As a charity, Sustain was soon able to secure a grant to employ a dedicated, full-time member of staff for the first five years. Annual payments from our supporters, plus donations and income from events, book/publication sales and other gifts currently contribute to the salary of a part-time member of staff, plus some other costs. The plan remains that we will eventually generate enough income to employ at least one full-time member of staff, plus all of our other costs.
With this very limited budget, one key to our success has been people willing and able to contribute their skills, time and knowledge on a voluntary basis. We know, however, that many people want, need and deserve payment. Our reliance on volunteers limits some people’s ability to participate and, therefore, means that our work and network is not as diverse, equitable and inclusive as it should be. We are looking at ways to improve this.
In addition to our free enewsletter, and our supporters’ magazine True Loaf, our main method of communication is via social media platforms. Originally Twitter was the most useful but we have found interaction has dropped and that people in our network are now more active on Instagram. We also run a Facebook account.
We also dedicate time to public / media relations (PR). We run activities that are not only in line with our aims but also have PR potential; building relationships with key people in relevant media outlets then helps to ensure that these get featured. Encouraging professional baker supporters to get involved in these activities and do their own PR work locally helps them get publicity for their own enterprises, Real Bread (and issues/questions surrounding the industrial stuff) in general and the Campaign as a whole.
Here’s a potted timeline of the first 10 years of the Real Bread Campaign.
An organisation that took its original inspiration from the Real Bread Campaign is Real Bread Ireland, which is run according to a different model. Rather than being part of a charity, this is a standalone network that is run by its members, all of whom are either professional bakers, bakery owners, millers, bakery teachers or otherwise have a Real Bread related business interest. The organisation promotes Real Bread and bakeries and facilitates peer-to-peer connections and support between its members.
One last thought: Is there already an organisation / network in your part of the world doing what you think needs to be done already?
If there are other things that you would find useful in setting up your own Real Bread national/regional initiative/project/campaign/network, please drop me a line and I’ll see what we might be able to help you.