As part of our United Kingdom of Solutions focus, we meet social entrepreneur Rosie Ginday. Based in the Midlands, her food business helps some of the area’s most disadvantaged young people

Coventry-born Rosie Ginday had already trained as a high-end pastry chef, worked at a Michelin starred restaurant, taught English in Taiwan and opened a community vegan restaurant. At the age of 25, she wanted to combine her passion for food with a social enterprise business that supported young people. Ginday eventually hit upon macarons: the brightly coloured double-discs of light, crisp almond meringue.

“I have a close family member who grew up in care and I saw it had a massive impact on him,” she says, “so I wanted to provide opportunities for young people like him to build their skills and confidence. Macarons were simple enough that someone who had never worked in a kitchen before could make them, but also artistic enough to keep my attention.”

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Ginday (pictured above), launched Miss Macaroon in 2011 with just £500 of her own cash, and has now worked with 54 people aged 18-35 on the training scheme Macaroons that Make A Difference (MacsMAD).

It’s aimed at some of the Midlands’ most disadvantaged young people: care-leavers, lone parents, ex-offenders and people at risk of homelessness are among them. “Most of our trainees also have anxiety or depression,” she adds.

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The 10-week course includes learning how to make macarons, maths and English support and two-hour sessions with a psychotherapist and a counsellor. The young people also get to experience the world of work via MacsMAD’s hospitality and retail partners. Afterwards, they receive six months of one-to-one mentoring. Via shorter enterprise workshops, another 180 people have been supported by Ginday and her team.

“There’s a cohort of about 8,000 young people in this area who find it really difficult to get into employment,” Ginday explains. “Because of their circumstances, they need quite a bit of extra support, so we provide the hand-holding and opportunities. The best thing about my job is seeing the transformational change in young people. They go from being unable to speak in front of a group to delivering a presentation to 40 people plus a member of the royal family. It’s incredible.”

It’s all funded by macaron sales: companies including Google, Instagram and Facebook regularly snap up the pastel-hued treats for their events.

Birmingham has, she notes, a huge social enterprise support system, which rises to meet the Midlands’ many would-be social entrepreneurs.

Ginday, who has Punjabi parents, also points to the Midlands’ deliciously rich and diverse food culture. “Food is a communication tool, a way to bring people together. It shows we have loads more in common than divides us,” she says. Birmingham’s startup food scene is “particularly exciting”, she enthuses.

Food is a way to bring people together. It shows we have loads more in common than divides us

Macarons aside, what are her favourite food memories? “Having all the aunts around before a big event and forming a batch production line, making samosas and pickles by hand,” she says. “Also, going to a Chinese restaurant on a Friday night. We weren’t a very well-off family so when we did eat out, it was a really lovely treat, and actually an educational experience: how to use chopsticks and make cabbage rolls!”

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Image: Richard Battye 

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