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Macaroons graduates set their sights on employment

The power of macaroons to help get people back into work and overcome barriers to learning was highlighted at a special event held at Aston University.

From left: Sadik Hussain, Emily Charlton, Rosie Ginday and Thomas Reeves
From left: Sadik Hussain, Emily Charlton, Rosie Ginday and Thomas Reeves

A group of 28 participants, who are all aged between 18 and 35, successfully graduated after completing the pioneering 'Macaroons that Make a Difference' (MacsMAD) course run by Birmingham-based Miss Macaroon’s Rosie Ginday.

The initiative has been running for more than 10 years and provides people who are low in confidence, suffering mental health issues or have been unemployed for some time with access to a unique 10-week course that covers time in the social enterprise’s training and production kitchen where they work alongside professional chefs.

At the heart of the approach is giving them skills in both catering, retail and marketing, while also supporting their own personal development through mentoring and, in recent years, access to a psychotherapist and counsellor.

So far, 134 graduates have completed the MacsMAD programme, with 64 of them achieving Kickstart work placements with the business and others going on to work with other local employers.

Everyone is supported by their programme leader, work buddy, psychotherapist and counsellor and has access to their mentor for six months after the course ends.

Rosie, who started Miss Macaroon in 2011 with a small, rented kitchen and one employee, said: “It’s fantastic that we are able to recognise the achievements of 28 individuals, who have completed our course and are now either in work or ready to move into their next job – many of whom were previously signed off as unfit for employment.

“MacsMAD has been a fundamental part of our growth over the last eleven years, and we have worked really hard to evolve the training and the course to reflect the different challenges young people and adults face.”

She continued: “When they start, 65 per cent are dealing with some form of mental health issue, 12 per cent are lone parents and 38 per cent have autism spectrum disorder. One in five are ex-offenders, a big priority for our ongoing support.

“They all share a desire to overcome their barriers, to learn new skills and to hopefully get into work…we just use macaroons to bake a better future for them. It’s a real team effort too; everyone who buys a macaroon or visits our stores at the Grand Western Arcade and Resorts World are contributing to making MacsMAD a success.”

The graduation ceremony recognised some of the stars who have helped support and mentor the individuals on their journey.

Ricky Perry was the ‘Above and Beyond’ winner, as he has supported the chef trainer to welcome new MacsMAD inductees in sharing his personal story of how extreme anxiety almost stopped him from joining to completing the programme, gaining a permanent job with us and becoming a MacsMAD Leader in the process.

Denise Worth was the ‘helping hand supporter’ winner for her efforts in mentoring new MacsMAD trainees and even supporting one to gain emergency housing, advocating on their behalf to avoid becoming homeless.

The final winner on the evening was Alice Knight, who was named as the Star Ambassador. This was for the way she has visited multiple job centres, jobs fairs and colleges around the city to help create new relationships and promote the MacsMAD programme.

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