On a rather cold, but sunny spring morning in March, Chef Ben Purton, General Manager Robert Richardson, Hospitality Consultant Neil Shorthouse, arrived outside a small office, situated outside Her Majesty Prison Brixton, London for lunch at The Clink. All possessions, are held in the ‘shed’ including phones, bags, coats etc, and yes you do receive a pat-down by a prisoner officer on entering the prison, however all part of the experience.
Hosted by Tracey Fairclough, Catering Consultant and joined by Chris Moore, CEO of The Clink Charity, and some colleague for a sumptuous 3 course lunch.
What is the Clink:
The Clink operates four training restaurants in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service at HMP High Down, HMP Cardiff, HMP Brixton and HMP Styal. For our internal and external customers dining at The Clink Restaurant it 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 and local produce. Each restaurant also offers facilities for business meetings, corporate events and private dining. In addition to The Clink Restaurants, The Clink also operates Clink Café, Clink Events, Clink Kitchens and Clink Gardens. Our chefs work closely with our gardens team to plan the crops so that we can incorporate them into our menus.3 course lunch, that is both cooked, and served by inmates from the prison.
We asked Christopher Moore | Chief Executive what is the Purpose and Objectives of The Clink,
The prisoners at each of The Clink projects work a 40-hour week whilst working towards gaining their City & Guilds qualifications. Simulating a professional working
environment, prisoners with six to 18 months of their sentence left to serve volunteer for the programme, going through full-time training in order to reach the
required level to succeed in their respective industry.
The Clink currently trains up to 200 prisoners a day to gain their Level 2 NVQs in Food Service, Food Preparation, Food Hygiene and Horticulture in the
following enterprises. Restaurants The Clink Restaurants operate four training restaurants open to the public to dine, located at HMP High Down, HMP Cardiff, HMP Brixton and HMP Styal.
The Clink Gardens
The Clink Gardens operate at HMP Send and HMP High Down. Prisoners work to gain experience and achieve their City & Guilds NVQ Level 2 in Horticulture. The produce is delivered daily to the restaurants along with free range eggs.
The Clink Events
The Clink Events provides a bespoke outside catering service beyond the walls of the prison and provides the prisoners, Clink graduates and homeless clients in training
with the opportunity to gain additional experience in event catering. We then support the trainees in securing employment at the end of their training.
Mentoring and Support work
The Clink provides an integrated program involving not only formal training but also help and support upon release. We meet our graduates at the gate and find
them employment and housing if required. We also ensure that they have a bank account and are registered with a doctor. Our mentors are there 24/7 for as long as
New data analysis from a report conducted by the Justice Data Lab (JDL) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) provides evidence that prisoners participating in The Clink Charity’s training scheme reduces reoffending rates, with the report stating the charity has achieved a “statistically significant result”.
Plans for the Future
The Clink Charity’s fully integrated approach reduces re-offending. We have built a state of the art central production training kitchen to support our Clink Events business at HMP Downview, Sutton, Surrey. We aim to expand Clink Events and are proud to be an accredited caterer with The Guildhall London for the next three years. This means we can work with more vulnerable young people supporting and training
them to work in the hospitality industry.
It was such a unique experience, it feels surreal that you are walking through a prison to have lunch, however once walking inside the restaurant you could have been in any restaurant, the only sign of being in a prison, is that you are in essence locked in, and that the team supporting the inmates are prison guards, once you forget that and start to interact with the staff serving, you soon relax, enjoy and have a fantastic lunch.
support us with a donation, please visit our website www.theclinkcharity.org
Other ways you can support us If you or your business is able to:
• Provide kitchen or restaurant equipment for The Clink Restaurants or future projects.
• Provide free or discounted produce.
• Provide training for staff both front-of-house and in the kitchen.
• Provide employment in your hospitality business.
Then please email us at [email protected]
Gemma Slater | PR & Marketing Manager