Ready to connect and take action in your part of the world?
The Real Bread Campaign is run by the UK food and farming charity Sustain. Since our launch in November 2008, we’ve gained supporters and other friends around the globe.
The focus of our work is in the UK and it’s now time for us to accept our limitations. 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, connections or local knowledge to run effective lobbying and projects in other countries.
Could this be where you come in?
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 in July 2021 from people in around 20 countries. We also see our annual, international Real Bread Week and Sourdough September initiatives generate media coverage around the world and social media posts from more people in 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, are those living through those issues in that place. Knowing local histories, cultures, languages, politics and food landscape are key to building strong networks of people who, collectively, decide the key issues to address and the most appropriate action to take.
We can help to 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 will probably 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 and informed 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, and is accompanied by our events calendar. We 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 the annual work plan is based.
Solutions / activity
We have done work on some of the solutions / activity, while others remain on our to-do list.
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. This money contributes to the costs incurred* by Sustain in running the Campaign.
*Salary, National Insurance etc for a part-time dedicated staff member; finance, design, IT and management support; office rent; IT costs; printing and more.
At first, the Real Bread Campaign was run by volunteers, supported by members of Sustain’s staff. As a charity, Sustain was able to secure a grant to employ a dedicated, full-time member of staff for the first five years.
Since the end of our initial funding, the only income we receive has been from:
The plan remains that, eventually, we will 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. This includes contributing to our magazine, books and other publications; hosting and speaking/demonstrating at events; help in the office.
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 public Facebook page and The Real Baker-e group for our supporters.
Our official ambassadors and other supporters help us to establish connections with even more people and spread our message more widely.
The Real Bread Campaign is run by Sustain, which is a registered charity. While Sustain is a membership organisation (its members being other organisations) the Real Bread Campaign is a project that invites people to become supporters of its work.
Rather than a formal membership structure involving an AGM and voting, the Campaign's work is informed by supporter surveys and other feedback mechanisms. These also include a working party of invited experts, chaired by one of Sustain's trustees.
Our statement on how we work towards everyone having the chance to choose Real Bread and to be included in our work and world.
Ireland Real Bread Ireland took its inspiration from the Real Bread Campaign but has a different organisational 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.
New Zealand The owner of Mad Hatter Bakery is in the early stages of establishing Real Bread Aotearoa.
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 you’d like me to put you in touch with anyone else we know in your country, I’m happy to pass your details on to them.
If there are other things that you would find useful in setting up your own Real Bread national/regional initiative/project/campaign/network, drop me a line and I’ll see what we might be able to help you.
Chris Young has been the Real Bread Campaign coordinator since March 2009.