This post is a pure and simple celebration of some of the inspirational organisations working towards the training and rehabilitation of offenders while in prison – in extremely innovative and entrepreneurial ways.
The Clink Charity’s aim is to reduce reoffending through the training and rehabilitation of prisoners. They work in partnership with HMPS, to run various projects within prisons – Clink Restaurants, Clink Events, Clink Gardens – offering NVQ qualifications in Catering, Hospitality and Horticulture.
Alberto Crisci MBE, Founder of The Clink says of the Charity, ‘Through the work and training taking place, we can transform lives and reduce offending rates’. The Clink aims to release 500 ‘graduates’ from their training into employment per year (there are 50 prisoners trained on average in each training unit per year) – but their involvement doesn’t stop there. They help with finding employment and continue to mentor them after release.
The charity currently has four restaurants, but plans to increase that number to 10 by the end of 2017.
While their purpose is rehabilitation through education, the restaurants themselves are a huge success in their own right and have won numerous awards. The restaurant at HMP Cardiff is ranked the No.1 restaurant of almost 1,000 in Cardiff by TripAdvisor, and has been shortlisted by the Welsh public to be crowned ‘Restaurant of the Year in South East Wales’ in The Food Awards Wales 2015.
Fine Cell Work
Fine Cell Work is a social enterprise, founded in 1997, that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework – aiming to foster hope, discipline and self-esteem. The work they do is supported by volunteers from the Embroiders and Quilters Guild, and is undertaken in prisons across the UK.
The prisoners are paid for their work (prisoners earn around 37% of the sale price of each piece), which is then sold around the world. Some are interior design commissions, and some are heritage pieces for organisations such as English Heritage, Tate Modern, and the National Gallery. The work can also be bought online.
Fine Cell Work has 60 volunteers training over 400 prisoners in 29 prisons across England, Scotland and Wales.
Bad Boys Bakery
The Bad Boys Bakery in Brixton was born out of the reality TV show featuring Gordon Ramsey, ‘Gordon Behind Bars’, in which Ramsey set up a professional bakery operating from the prison. The project was formed into a Community Interest Company in 2013, with the help and support of Working Links. The Bakery sells bread and cakes both inside and outside the prison, and has contracts with some bigger retailers.
While in the Bakery, the ‘Boys’ receive on the job training to industry standards with the opportunity to gain accredited qualifications in hospitality and catering, such as NVQs in food preparation, barista training, and awards in customer service – skills and qualifications that will help them to find sustainable work in the future.
The reported reoffending rates among inmates who trained at the bakery are 3% vs. at rate of around 40% overall.
We support and applaud the great work that these organisations are doing. Sadly they are only involving small numbers of prisoners relative to the prison population of around 84,000. We hope that they grow and inspire other schemes that educate and rehabilitate.