Fred Sirieix, general manager of the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows restaurant in London is to front a new programme aimed at helping young offenders into a career in hospitality.
With the help of Novus – which specialises in teaching offenders – and the DM Thomas Foundation, Sirieix has established the Right Course, which aims to transform staff restaurants in prisons into high street-like operations using existing facilities and equipment and at no cost to the tax payer.
Sirieix said: “The whole aim is to reduce reoffending and teach prisoners about service and cooking within prisons so that they can join our industry upon release. The work we do together with Novus and the DM Thomas Foundation gets young learners to practice delivering high standards that will ultimately make them great professionals.
“Prison environments should be about forgiveness and redemption. We should be educating these young people and instilling strong values within them to underpin it all.
“Novus plays an integral and important role in this scheme and works closely with The Right Course to ensure we deliver our vision and values. We’re here to help these young people and also to help them to help themselves.”
Novus, which provides education and skills training at Isis and in more than 60 additional prisons across England and Wales, engages young learners so they can see that learning can play a pivotal role in their redemption.
Peter Cox, managing director of Novus, said: “What an exciting partnership. Novus is very much behind Fred’s vision, which we believe will teach many young people the values required to make a positive contribution to society and to leave their criminal past firmly behind them.
“We will continue to work closely with our partners to innovate and set up projects like this across the country, in our fight to reduce re-offending rates.”
The announcement came after around 20 young people serving time in HMP/YOI Isis, waited on around 50 guests in the Thamesmead, London-based establishment with the guidance of Sirieix, and chef Chris Thompson, who has worked in London restaurants including Maze by Gordon Ramsay and the Duck and Waffle.
A training programme, in which young people will engage with employer volunteers, will now begin.
This is not the first such programme designed to help offenders into employement in hospitality. Al Crisci launched the first Clink restaurant at HMP Sutton in 2009. Since then over 500 offenders have succeed in the catering industry through full training, mentoring and support.
There are currently four Clink restaurants, at HMP High Down in Sutton, HMP Cardiff, HMP Brixton and HMP Styal in Cheshire, with plans for more across the prison estate.
Thompson, who is currently working at Zelman Meats as a development chef, said: “I want to show the guys (young offenders) that being a chef and working in a kitchen is not just about hard work, but also that there is a lot of fun to be had.
“Having camaraderie and a family feel will be good for them. To get advanced skills from an experienced chef is great and this experience has opened both their eyes, and mine.”
Emily Thomas, Governor at HMP/YOI Isis, said: “I am so, so proud of all the boys here. Our vision at HMP/YOI Isis is to provide hope for the future and make change possible. The work going on with The Right Choice is brilliant to see.”
Also involved in this project is Land Securities, Hilton and Galvin at Windows.
Pictured: Barbara McDonough, chief operating officer for Novus; Emily Thomas, governor at HMP/YOI Isis; chef Chris Thompson; Fred Sirieix; Paul Baker, deputy director of custody (DDC) for Greater London National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and Simon Sheehan, Director of the DM Thomas Foundation for Young People.