Inside Norfolk’s only combined brewery and bakery
PUBLISHED: 06:30 05 March 2020
“It is not just beer - you are giving people a shot at life.”
That is the message behind Equal Brewkery, a not-for profit brewery and bakery on Ipswich Road in Norwich.
It was set up by Bill Russell, 68, and teaches people with learning disabilities how to bake and brew with the aim of helping them secure long-term paid employment.
The idea came when Mr Russell, who has lived in Norwich for 30 years, suffered a stroke and was hospitalised five years ago.
He said: "When I had the stroke I lost the use of my right hand side and I was lucky as I recovered.
"But while I was in hospital, I was amazed by the number of people who had brain injuries and wondered where they ended up. I also wondered to myself what I should do next."
Previously Mr Russell, who described himself as an amateur baker, set up and ran a micro-brewery called Black Friar in Great Yarmouth.
He said he wanted to marry his background with social good, and founded Equal Brewkery in 2016 after a successful pitch to a London based social enterprise company.
Since then, along with a team of volunteers, he has equipped people with bakery and brewery skills - and recently employed a former student at Equal Brewkery.
Mr Russell has applied for a premises licence to sell the beer, which would cost £1.80 for a 330cl bottle, and hopes, if approved, it would enable more jobs to be created at the brewkery.
He said: "More beer means more people through the doors and more people employed. That is my ambition and we are on the cusp of it. If we can achieve that I will be really proud.
"There are a frightening number of people with learning disabilities who don't get employment and I want to change that. But I've learnt that people are inherently good and I've had lots of support which I hope continues."
Bread available to buy includes sourdough, rye and soda, while beer ranges from American Pale Ale to Golden Ale.
For more information www.equalbrewkery.org.uk/