Family Refugee Support Project and Wirral Bread Circle

Bakers give Liverpool charity working with refugees and people seeking asylum a present of more than bread!

The Toxteth based Family Refugee Support Project (FRSP) has received a major present from the Wirral Bread Circle.

FRSP supports, through horticulture and therapy, individuals and families who have suffered great hardship and trauma. The clients are often frightened and face real challenges adapting to a new culture, language and bureaucratic systems. The Project provides hope, security and practical help when people are often at their lowest point.

The project was established 25 years ago within the NHS and became a charity in July 2003.  FRSP continues to support individual refugees and people seeking asylum as well as their families. The project is centred on a small courtyard garden in the heart of Toxteth and an allotment plot in Liverpool. The Project provides a safe haven where refugees and people seeking asylum and their families can address the complex issues that they have to face on a daily basis with highly skilled psychotherapists and counsellors. FRSP receives support from charitable trusts, NHS contracts and individual donations. The Project has received widescale recognition for its work and was the inspiration for the 2007 film Grow Your Own, starring the Oscar winning actress Olivia Colman.

The generous donation of over £11000 will be used to improve the Project’s services. This will make a significant difference. The Trustees will finalise exactly how the money will be spent shortly.

The Wirral Bread Circle was founded in 2011 when Michael Gopfert recently retired from being a psychiatrist in the NHS wanted a new project. He had always baked sourdough loaves, missing his native German bread and decided to improve his baking skills. He baked with friends, volunteered at Walk Mill, got a diploma in baking, asked friends what bread they might like and the bread circle started first in his kitchen and then in his garage which was adapted and rebuilt as a bakery.

The Bake House Garage

The Bread Circle grew very rapidly. Many volunteers who enjoyed baking joined – and together every Thursday they would bake different kinds of sourdough loaves in rotation – rye, spelt, granary and plain.  Neighbours and friends would collect a loaf and give a donation towards the cost with 50 – 70 loaves baked each week!

Ready to eat…
Fresh loaves…

Sadly the Covid pandemic meant the bakery had to close temporarily and because of changing circumstances it was agreed by all involved that it would not reopen.  Over the years the Bread Circle had built up sizeable savings.  The volunteer bakers and friends of the Bread Circle were asked where the money should go and unanimously agreed for a donation to be made to the Family Refugee Support Project which some of the volunteer bakers had been involved with over the years.             

Karen Jonason, the chair of the FRSP’s Trustees has said “this is an extraordinary present marking the Project’s first 25 years. Raising funds to keep our charity going is always a challenge. We do depend on the generosity of the public as well as receiving grants from foundations and NHS contracts. Our services are stretched as we come out of the Covid pandemic and with the new arrivals from Afghanistan. This wonderful donation will help us develop our garden and services and help with our long term sustainability. We will be marking the donation with a ceramic plaque in the garden.”

Michael Gopfert has said “it was incredibly sad to close the Bread Circle after 10 years. The Circle was more than just a baking venture. It provided fellowship and friendship to all who were involved. Baking bread together helped us learn more about each other and the wider world. We are delighted that the donations of our members will have such a wonderful long -term legacy.”