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The Clink aims to double events business turnover after unveiling new prison kitchen

09 October 2018 by
The Clink aims to double events business turnover after unveiling new prison kitchen

The Clink Charity aims to double the turnover of its events business to £600,000 in 2019 after unveiling a new dedicated production kitchen this week.

Speaking at the launch of the new facilities, Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink, said he was confident of hitting the target by utilising its existing London venues, including Bakers Hall, Guildhall and Lambeth Palace, and winning new locations.

"The more venues we are listed in, the more prisoners we can train and the more homeless people we can get into work," he said. "It's a virtuous circle."

The events kitchen, which underwent a £640,000 two-year renovation, is located in an old storeroom in HMP Downview, which neighbours HMP High Down, in Surrey, the location of one of the four The Clink restaurants.

The Clink Events team will train up to 24 prisoners, all in the last 18 months of their sentences at Downview women's prison, at any one time, with up to 35 expected to be trained in a year.

As well as putting prisoners through their level 2 City and Guilds NVQ qualification in food safety, food preparation and food and beverage service, The Clink also helps them integrate into society and reduces reoffending.

"It builds their social skills, pride, sense of team and gets them working an eight hour day," said Moore. "It's about not taking them so far away from society that they can't get back in."

A study in 2015 showed Clink graduates were 10% less likely to reoffend than prisoners from similar backgrounds who hadn't worked with the charity, said Moore.

The Clink founder Al Crisci, meanwhile, said the charity provided a credible solution to the current hospitality skills shortage.

"Brexit is good for us," he said. "We've got more employers wanting our graduates than we've got graduates. We've recently had two graduates join Royal Lancaster London and one of our graduates is sous chef of Roast in Borough Market.

"When you're employing an ex-offender, you know what you're getting far more than a non-offender and they're often grateful to have been given an opportunity."

The Clink's events are staffed with a mixture of prisoners on day release and casual staff, often sourced through social initiatives like Centrepoint charity which supports homeless young people.

"We also give the opportunity for ex-offenders to get work, paid at the going rate, while they are looking for full time employment," said Crisci.

The events team has five full-time members of staff lead by general manager Jonny Whitfield, who's previously worked with caterers Absolute Taste and Moving Venue. Also in the team is head chef Christa Janse Van Rensburg (pictured), two sous chefs and a back of house assistant.

Moore said The Clink is also in discussions with other contract caterers looking to use the new production kitchen to support their own events.

Clink Charity's hospitality training schemes reducing reoffending by 49.6%>>

Clink Charity to open central production kitchen at HMP Downview>>

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