Case Studies

Ruskin Mill Trust

24 Oct 2017


Company: Ruskin Mill Land Trust

Location: New Standard Works, Vittoria Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham

Project: Hive Bakery, a new café and youth training facility

Value of Funding: £100,000 grant and £150,000 loan via GBSLEP Growing Places Fund

Value of Project: £373,000

Sakander Hussain, an Argent College student and apprentice at Hive Bakery said:

“Doing work experience in the café has really helped to build my confidence and my favourite thing about working here is being a part of the team. If I wasn’t here, I’d be at home not getting the education I need or want – when I leave college I’m going to enter into a career in catering.”

In June 2017, following significant redevelopment of a Grade II listed, derelict building in the Jewellery Quarter, Ruskin Mill Land Trust opened an artisan educational cafe and social enterprise – Hive Bakery. The project is designed to provide training and jobs for young people in the Greater Birmingham community with special needs, as well as attracting visitors to the Jewellery Quarter’s ‘Industrial Middle’. The initiative was supported by a mixture of grant and loan funding from GBSLEP, totalling £250,000.

The bakery café will create 12 new jobs by 2020, as well as providing young people with special needs the training and guidance they need to thrive in a working environment. This is in line with GBSLEP’s 2016 – 2030 Strategic Economic Plan which sets out intention to increase skills and reduce unemployment across the region. The project is part of a larger scheme to use the New Standard Works building for education, community and heritage-related activities.

The opportunity

Located in the same building as Argent College, a facility that delivers practical and therapeutic education to students aged 16 – 25, the café and bakery will significantly improve access to skills and the career development prospects of the area’s young people. The college and adjoining café will be an integral part of the local community, offering work experience as well as social and cultural programmes.

The New Standard Works had been empty for 20 years and urgently needed a complete restoration and new lease of life. The project fits within the Jewellery Quarter Development Plan and has been supported by local SMEs as it will increase footfall along Vittoria Street. It is estimated that annual visitors to the area will double from 20,000 to 40,000 as a result of the Townscape Heritage Initiative and Golden Square Developments in the same locality. These factors are also in keeping with the mission of Ruskin Mill Land Trust, which is to take derelict industrial buildings and provide new life and vision.


The first phase of the Ruskin Mill project, to repair and enhance the fabric, and to provide an educational space was completed in September 2015. This also provided infrastructure to support the bakery by way of repairs to the floors a new roof, new services and drainage. The works included lowering part of the floor at the front of the new café to create an accessible entrance.

Now up and running, the Hive café and bakery provides training and work experience opportunities to students from Argent College, a special needs college for young people aged 16 – 25, located on the first floor of the four storey New Standard Works building.

The building also features a first floor roof garden, where students grow salads and herbs for the café below, teaching them the relationship between growing, harvesting and eating. As well as this, a heritage lounge is to be created next to the café following a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Why does this matter?

  • The project allows young people with learning difficulties to get real-life work experience in a supportive, professional environment
  • Students are given the confidence and training that will prepare them for their future careers
  • Renovation and the opening up of this historic building has provided local residents and visitors with a prime leisure space that will attract increased footfall to the area
We are so grateful for the support of the GBSLEP in the transformation of this iconic building, which has allowed us to breathe new life into a previously derelict part of Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter. Students from Argent College are thrilled to have the opportunity to develop new skills in baking and are looking forward to serving their community with delicious bread, cake and salads grown on our rooftop micro farm. It’s so important that we support disadvantaged young people in finding employment and for many of our pupils, this project will be life changing.

Janine Christley, Director of Fundraising at Ruskin Mill Trust