Catering charity The Clink works in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) to reduce re-offending rates by training inmates in their kitchens, supporting them to develop skills for employment upon release. The Award-winning training scheme has achieved
a 65.6% reduction in re-offending and has big plans for expansion.
The Clink runs four training restaurants at HMP High Down, HMP Cardiff, HMP Brixton and HMP Styal – where members of
the public can dine – and a further three prison kitchens, three gardens and an events catering business. During the pandemic, the Clink@Home delivery service was introduced, operating from within The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton. “The restaurants allow prisoners to learn, engage with the public and take their first steps towards a new life. The food is a contemporary twist on traditional British cuisine.” Says Christopher Moore, chief executive
Following their training, the participants receive a City & Guilds National Vocational Qualification in Food Preparation & Cookery
– and for those in the gardens – Horticulture. Prisoners who embark on The Clink’s training are volunteers, with six to 18 months left to serve on their sentence and most importantly, are motivated to work in catering.
Ever evolving, their latest endeavour is The Clink Kitchens in partnership with HMPPS and New Futures Network which is being rolled out to 70 prison kitchens over the next three years.
Clink trainers work in the kitchens supporting students to achieve their NVQs, however the training doesn’t stop at the prison gates. The charity’s support and mentoring team work closely with each of the training course graduates up to a year after release. They help them find suitable jobs, prepare for work and assist with tasks such as opening a bank account and occasionally pay for accommodation. Gemma Slater from The Clink says “The Clink meets them at the gate on release and provide 24/7 support with any issues. We are one of few organisations to work both sides of the prison gate.”
Helping to find graduates a job in the catering industry is crucial and many well-known hospitality companies have supported the charity, hiring Clink graduates. Hand Picked Hotels placed their first candidate in one of their kitchen brigades, Katie Owlett, Resourcing Manager says “He has made an excellent addition to our team – he is hardworking, dedicated and motivated and has settled in really well. We look forward to continuing to work with The Clink to provide second chances and career opportunities in the future.”
Success stories also include Kevin, who has competed in Channel 4’s “Bake Off: The Professionals”. While at HMP Brixton, he started working at The Clink in 2015 after being charged with conspiracy to supply. He says “While I was in The Clink, I realised that I had developed a passion for cooking. I knew that in order to be successful upon release, I had to reach out for help via the Clink’s support workers.” Kevin’s support worker helped him with temporary accommodation and once he was settled, put him forward for a job in a private members’ club. He says “Not only do I have a job and appeared on TV, I’ve given speeches to members of Parliament about
my time in custody and I’m now writing a book.”