A false dawn and a new future for Bread + Roses

Martyn Johnston and Tamsin Scott

As we enter 2021, we have been forced to close our doors once again, and yet another false start has set us back. With what now looks like mistaken optimism, we brought our team back from furlough in August 2020, recruited a new manager, and began the arduous task of reopening and relaunching Bread + Roses.

Like many, we fell for the message of reassurance we so desperately craved, and, like many others, followed government guidelines and reopened our doors to minimal fanfare on 28th September 2020. If only we had a crystal ball, or perhaps just a little more foresight and common sense not to follow the path laid out by the government. We all now know that Boris and his gang had already fucked things up in the Summer with their ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, and their buoyant and rather arrogant sense of optimism. 

Soon after opening our doors all momentum was lost, when on the 5th November a new lockdown was announced in West Yorkshire. The small shoots of progress we had made were trampled on – our new team of volunteers sent home, the staff routine thrown in the bin, and around £1000 of revenue from workspaces refunded. Upon reopening in December, we gave it our best shot to create something new and engaging for our loyal customers. We spruced the place up, purchased old stock from the now closed Daley’s Art Supplies, and launched our online click + collect shop. Some of our favourite and most local customers returned, grateful to have a place to go to get delicious healthy food and support a place like Bread + Roses. But in addition to lost revenue from our workspaces, sales were down in the cafe and the place felt empty with our community in tier 3.

As we enter 2021, we have been forced to keep our doors closed, with the regret of the false dawn behind us. In a way this has dealt us yet another lifeline. Whilst the national lockdown has secured our position for now, our future is still uncertain. We must now begin the work to rethink our strategy on how we can continue to serve our community, and how we can rebuild a sustainable business. 

At this critical time, it is important we begin to plan for the medium term, including the reopening and relaunching of Bread and Roses, and explore all potential alternatives.  

We are really keen that you are still able to be involved with Bread + Roses, and we invite you to bring your ideas and time, and your passion for Bradford to help us plan a future for our organisation and our community. 


Here are seven ways that you can be involved and help shape a future for Bread + Roses and our cooperative association.


  1. A new fund has opened (closing on 26th January 2021) and we are seeking individuals and groups that we can support by helping draft applications and host here at Bread + Roses, as part of a Spring programme of online community events. The National Lottery’s Local Connections Fund offers micro grants of £300 – £2,500 to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities. As part of our package of support we are offering to host your online events for free from Bread + Roses, using our live streaming and video equipment. We would like to support up to 10 groups, which we hope will help keep our community strong over in the months ahead. Email martyn@thebreadandroses.coop if you are interested in working with us. 

    More information about National Lottery’s Local Connections Fund can be found here: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/local-connections-fund#section-3


  1. As part of our spring 2021 online community events programme, we are looking for facilitators and practitioners to volunteer their time and skills to host online activities and workshops that support individuals mental health. Expenses are paid and we can provide support in hosting and producing video or audio with our facilities here at Bread + Roses. Email events@thebreadandroses.coop if you are interested.


  1. We are looking for volunteers to join our cooperative and help guide the organisation and its future. We have a number of working groups that individuals can join, these include: Finance and Business Sustainability WG, Projects and Funding WG, Membership and Governance WG, HR Diversity Equity and Inclusion WG, Events at Bread + Roses WG, Future of Bread + Roses WG. Each working group is responsible for a different strand of the cooperative and organises itself to develop new ideas and manage their area of responsibility. Volunteering with us and being involved in a working group means you have the opportunity to become a member of the cooperative and have your say in our future. Email tamsin@thebreadandroses.coop to let us know you are interested, and we will arrange a call with you to discuss how you can get involved. 


  1. We are looking for advisors to join our board during this difficult period. We are specifically looking for people with expertise in legal, financial, and corporate management. Email directors@thebreadandroses.coop if you are interested and can help.


  1. We currently have an empty building. When we can reopen we will have to quickly rebuild our workspace community from zero, and we have a number of private offices and meeting spaces available to rent on a flexible or regular basis; all inclusive of bills with super fast fibre internet, fully furnished with gorgeous plants, central heated, and equipped with display screen and professional video conferencing. Standard prices start from £45 for a half day pass and £90 for a full day pass, and we offer regular weekly / monthly passes as well as dedicated room hire. Click here to find out more, and email hello@thebreadandroses.coop to make a booking. 

“The inside space is bright and airy and gets great light from the huge windows. My clients are often coming when at crisis points in their lives and the relaxed atmosphere makes a big difference to relaxing them while they are waiting for advice. I have found it a nice friendly place to work from and always someone interesting to chat with in quiet moment” – Terence O’Gorman, 16 2 25 Advice Service


6.  Our commercial kitchen is available to hire 3-5 days per week (including weekend days), either on a flexible or regular basis. Click here to find out more, and email katie@thebreadandroses.coop to arrange viewing/booking.

“If you’re looking for a place to prep or do batch cooking production Bread + Roses is a great little place, amazing value for money, independently run and staffed with helpful friendly people” – The Little Yellow Rice Co


7. We are looking for partnerships and funding opportunities centred around wellbeing and connecting individuals to one another. If you would like to use our spaces for a project, explore ways of working together, or indeed if you are a funder, please get in touch: martyn@thebreadandroses.coop 


We can’t thank you all enough for your support over the last few years, especially throughout the pandemic. Our biggest asset is the people of Bread + Roses: our staff, volunteers, coworkers, customers, members, exhibiting artists, suppliers, friends, and everybody else that has ever engaged with us. We hope you can continue on this journey with us and help us look to the future.


“Bread + Roses is not just a beautiful space, it is a community. It is my community. I think that is what will see us through 2021, community coming together. Our mission still remains but in a digital format for now so please get involved!”

Avril Barker, Bread + Roses 


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