The Clink Charity, which already runs two training restaurants in prisons, is to launch its third site - this time at HMP Brixton.
The old governor's house that has been used recently as administration offices within the grounds of the prison will be converted into a three-story restaurant and meetings venue, due to open in early 2014.
The restaurant will follow The Clink’s Five Step Programme that has been implemented at the Clink restaurant at HMP High Down in Surrey, educating prisoners and equipping them with the skills and tools to secure employment upon their release. There is already a second Clink restaurant at HMP Cardiff, called Clink Cymru.
Chris Moore, chief executive of the Clink Charity said he believed Brixton would cement the future for further Clink restaurants: "Brixton was the perfect site for our next restaurant. HMP Brixton is undergoing a regeneration project and was looking for an organisation to work with to develop the building into an opportunity for rehabilitation," he said.
"The central location lends itself to securing support from local businesses and members of the public, providing they are committed to The Clink’s vision and once the necessary security checks have been processed, providing real-life experience for those prisoners who make it through the selection process to join the programme."
In 2012 The Charity agreed a partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS), which supports the charitable initiative in a bid to open a further seven Clink Restaurants over the next four years. The charity is solely reliant on the support of the industry, charitable trusts and philanthropic individuals to build future Clink restaurants and each training restaurant relies on the income from diners and donations to operate.
Edmond Tullett, governor, HMP Brixton said: “Brixton is more than delighted to host the third Clink training restaurant in the Regency Roundhouse which dates back to 1819. The restaurant will provide an unforgettable experience for customers and an unrivalled opportunity for prisoners to acquire marketable skills that will lead to local jobs and provide a pathway to a better life.”
In addition to the 100-seat restaurant, the building will also include rooms for business meetings and working lunches. Providing five rooms for companies to organise ‘phone free’ meetings, without interruption, will provide income for the charity to continue to operate the restaurant. AV equipment will be available for use and the meetings will operate the same way as any other commercial meeting venue in London, whilst providing additional experience to prisoners looking for employment upon their release.
Prisons minister Jeremy Wright said: “This is a great partnership, which gives offenders the chance to learn skills that can help them secure employment once they leave prison.
“We know reoffending rates are unacceptably high and it’s through projects like this that we can help them build a strong work ethic that will ultimately enable them to turn their backs on crime.”
In addition to helping reduce reoffending The Clink Charity also aims to change the public’s perception about prison and the opportunities to rehabilitate prisoners effectively. In 2012, The Clink Cymru and The Clink HMP High Down welcomed over 15,000 diners to their restaurants.
Featured video - for more, visit Caterer and Hotelkeeper’s YouTube channel >>