The Clink Charity and Restaurants
The issue of reoffending has become one of the most pressing challenges facing society today. It is now recognised that the record levels of inmates in prison is not helping to reduce crime.
The main aim of The Clink Charity is to reduce reoffending rates of ex-offenders by training and placing graduates, upon their release, into employment in the hospitality industry. Since launching, the charity has achieved incredible results, with new data analysis released in 2016 by the Justice Data Lab and the Ministry of Justice revealing The Clink’s “statistically significant result” in reducing prisoner reoffending.
The analysis looked at male ex-offenders at The Clink restaurants at HMP High Down, Brixton and Cardiff, and found that those participating in The Clink’s rehabilitation programme are 41.0% less likely to re-offend. The original concept of The Clink Restaurant was created by Alberto Crisci MBE when he recognised the potential of some of the prisoners at HMP High Down who were working in the prison kitchens. In May 2009, the first Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down officially opened as the first public restaurant to open within the walls of a working prison.
The original vision remains true today – to break the cycle of crime by empowering prisoners with self-belief, work place skills and nationally recognised qualifications.
Prisoners at each of The Clink Restaurants work a 40-hour week whilst gaining City & Guilds NVQs in food preparation and front-of-house service. Simulating a professional working environment, prisoners with six to 18 months of their sentence left to serve are carefully selected for the programme, going through full-time training in order to reach the required level to succeed in their respective industry.
To ensure the success of the programme, The Clink Charity was launched in 2010 to develop a five-step model that could be applied across more prisons across the country and to further expand The Clink restaurant concept. The five-step model focuses on recruitment, training, supporting, mentoring and employment and has dramatically reduced the reoffending rate of those who have been part of the training programme.
The Clink Charity’s dedicated support workers work closely with each trainee during their time in the Clink and beyond the prison gate. They undertake interview coaching, produce a CV together and ensure they have housing and what they need to start over. They also line up interviews and liaise with other support agencies specific to the individuals’ needs. Support is given to the Clink graduates for as long as they need whilst they reintegrate back into society. This has proven to be the successful ingredient in rehabilitation and ultimately reduce the risk of reoffending.
Following the success of the first Clink restaurant at HMP High Down, a second was opened at HMP Cardiff in 2012. There have since been an additional two restaurants opened, with The Clink restaurant at HMP Brixton opening in 2014 and the fourth training restaurant opening at HMP Styal in Cheshire in April 2015.
Dining at The Clink Restaurant is a memorable experience where service is second to none and the food offers a contemporary twist on traditional British cuisine, with the menus creatively designed around the changing seasons. Each restaurant also offers facilities for business meetings, corporate events and private dining.
In addition to the Clink restaurant projects, The Clink Charity also operates its own gardens as well as external catering service, Clink Events. The Clink Gardens began at HMP Send in 2014 where women prisoners work to gain experience and achieve City & Guilds NVQ qualifications in horticulture. The fruit, vegetables and herbs produced from the gardens are delivered to the restaurants along with eggs from the chickens for which the women are also responsible.
The Clink’s external catering service, Clink Events, was launched to provide bespoke catering within the M25 beyond the walls of the restaurant and prison. It provides the prisoners in training the opportunity to gain additional experience in event catering.
If you would like to know more about The Clink Charity and Restaurants please visit www.theclinkcharity.org