The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down, Sutton, celebrated 10 years of “breaking new ground” in the battle against reoffending.
The charity celebrated the 10th birthday of it’s first prison restaurant at HMS Sutton, at an event last week.
Al Crisci, founder and director of The Clink Charity, said: “The restaurant here in Sutton started out with just a Molteni oven. At the time I was a catering manager for the prison, and we had a vision to help the prisoners find real employment on release. Peter Dawson, the governor at the time, [and present at the lunch] supported us with our dream.”
“We started out with two ex-offenders; a head chef, Dean Masters and a maître de, Francis Martinez and we went from there. Nothing we were doing had been done before, we were breaking new ground every day.”
The Clink restaurants, under the umbrella of The Clink Charity train prisoners to receive their accredited City & Guilds National Vocational Qualifications in an environment that doesn’t look or feel like a prison in order to give them the best possible chance of success when they leave prison.
The restaurants now have over 280 employers who are willing to employ Clink graduates subject to a satisfactory interview upon release, with currently, over 86,000 prisoners in England and Wales.
By training serving prisoners, and mentoring post release, the restaurants and The Clink Charity help to break the cycle of crime and give prisoners a positive future ahead. Recent results show that they have reduced reoffending rates by 49.6% when you compare the Clink graduates to a cohort of prisoners who have not trained with them.
“We work in an industry that’s all about human nature, and one that is extremely perishable – one false move and your customers won’t come back. I’m proud of the fact that our industry allows everyone to flourish and grow. It’s not easy to turn your life around,” Crisci added.
The lunch was supported by Café Spice Namaste, and suppliers Bidfood; British Premium Meats; Dennys Brands; Luscombe Drinks and Pelican.