Bread and Roses

A Hackney-based #socialenterprise tackling the social and financial isolation experienced by refugee women living in London

Although we often hear about the dangerous journeys people embark on to reach the UK, many of us don't know much about the life awaiting refugees when they arrive.

Many people who come to Britain are often made to wait for excruciatingly long periods before being granted refugee status – during this time, they are legally forbidden from working and are given less than £5 a day to live on. For refugee women, this often means years of isolation and struggling to make ends meet.

Bread & Roses, which was set up in early 2016, gives these women the opportunity to be part of a community – a community which values them and understands the difficulties they face. We run floristry workshops in refugee organisations all over London, inviting women to come along to get creative, whilst developing their conversational skills and building a support network as they go.

Helping women to become more confident and rebuild some of the self-worth lost in the asylum process prepares them when they do receive refugee status. For those women who are given the right to work whilst being supported by our social enterprise, we provide a plug-in employability service which gives them tailored support in idenitifying and applying for jobs. By working with socially-minded cafes and small businesses around the city, we are able to sell the beautiful bouquets and posies made in our workshops, allowing us to keep on providing a lifeline to some of London's most marginalised women.

Since setting up we’ve worked with over forty women, from Afghanistan to Zambia, and have invited a whole range of volunteers into our workshops. We’re always looking for new people to collaborate, who have skills and interests they’d like to share with the women Bread & Roses supports.

This Christmas, we're selling a limited number of resplendant wreaths to help raise funding for our 2017 programmes. If you’d like to buy one of our wreaths and adorn your front door with a beautiful symbol of solidarity this season, you can find details on our website

The above article by Olivia Head first published on