The Clink Charity – which runs a number of prison restaurants that serve the general public – says the support of the catering equipment industry over the past decade continues to give offenders the opportunity to train in kitchens that are as good as anything on the high street.
The Clink operates restaurants at HMP Brixton, Cardiff, High Down and Styal, as well as a cafe in Manchester. Meals are cooked and served by the prisoners in training, who are working towards NVQs in catering.
Like the rest of the industry, the restaurants are currently closed to due to Covid-19 restrictions but chief executive Chris Moore says plans are afoot to get them reopen at the start of summer.
“Obviously we’ve got the date in England at the moment of 17 May, but the prisons have then got to go through another process about letting the public back in – the families and the visits – so I envisage that two of our sites will probably be a little bit later than that date. In terms of our restaurants that are located outside the walling, Styal in Manchester could possibly open on that date and Wales is yet to still announce when they get to reopen the restaurants but it looks as if it may be around that time so I would hope by 1 June we would be able to restart some form of training at all sites.”
Mr Moore paid tribute to the numerous catering equipment brands and suppliers that have supported The Clink in setting up the training kitchens since he joined the organisation in 2010.
And as the organisation embarks on a programme to deliver training in up to 70 prisons over the next three years, Mr Moore said he was delighted with the facilities that are now available to offenders.
“The great thing about the project is that the kitchens are fully functioning and very well-maintained with excellent equipment so The Clink can just come in and focus on the training, whereas over the past 11 years we’ve been very reliant on the very generous support of many suppliers of catering equipment to get us to a stage where our students can work with the very latest equipment, either through donating it or heavily discounting it.
“We are very thankful to everyone that’s helped us with that during our journey over the last 10 years. The next phase is really just utilising the equipment that’s already there in the prison kitchens, so we won’t have that responsibility but we’re still updating and upgrading our existing equipment in our four restaurants, probably on a very regular basis.”
The original concept of The Clink Restaurant was created by Alberto Crisci MBE, then catering manager at HMP High Down in Surrey.
He recognised real potential in the prisoners working in the kitchens and introduced accredited City & Guilds NVQ training.
Mr Moore was speaking during the latest episode of Market Talk, which can be viewed HERE.