Tara Mullan, Chief Potion Maker of Refuge Chocolate, in her new kitchen

Refuge Chocolate finds a new home

Refuge Chocolate finds a new home

When Tara Mullan first set up Refuge Chocolate, she was working out of her aunt’s house. “She was a baker, then she went into the ministry and now she’s retired from both of those,” says Tara. “But she had a separate kitchen that she used to bake in. And it was great because it meant she was always knocking about for a chat, but it also meant there were ingredients all over the house, upstairs, in the garage, in the kitchen itself. It was getting hard to keep track of things.”

Now, as of late July, Tara’s ingredients arrive on pallets and are forklifted into a service lift before being stacked neatly in Refuge Chocolate’s new kitchen, a unit in an old mill in Tara’s hometown of Belfast. “Once we’d done all the work of having it painted and getting the new floor in, my first day actually working here felt like the first day of school.” 

Refuge make hot chocolate melts, gooey brownies, beautiful-looking marshmallows and more. Much more, now there’s a bigger space - she’s just completed a massive order for 13,000 handmade melts. The social enterprise was conceived as a fundraising venture for Flourish NI, a charity that helps victims of human trafficking. Pre-Covid, Tara would visit Flourish’s offices one day a week and the people being helped by the charity would do casual packing work. Now she’s able to involve people more fully, employing those with a legal right to work on a freelance basis. 

“It means I can be more useful to them,” she says of her new, bigger premises. “People can stagger when they come in, for Covid reasons, but also to help with their family commitments, or meetings about their case or anything else. It also means I can offer people better work experience and guidance and help with filling in forms.” 

When you take a sip of your Refuge hot chocolate, think of Tara and her crew in their freshly painted space, surrounded by new equipment and orderly pallets, chatting with the workers in other units and hearing the occasional clang of barbells from the nearby gym. This is their new home and every brownie that comes out of the oven helps someone else to find theirs.

Get yourself some Refuge Chocolate deliciousness from Different Kind:
Luxurious Drinking chocolate blend

Luxurious Belgian chocolate spread

Drinking chocolate melts and teal enamel mug