The Clink Charity, which is behind the training restaurant for inmates at Her Majesty's Prison High Down in Sutton, Surrey, has teamed up with hospitality education charity Springboard to launch a new ex-offender career mentoring scheme.
Prisoners that have qualified as chefs and waiters will now receive dedicated professional support and guidance as they seek employers who could benefit from their workplace-ready skills.
Opened in 2009, the Clink is the first public access fully operational restaurant within the secure walls of a UK prison.
The Clink Charity will now work closely with Springboard to seek prospective full-time employers for prisoners who have achieved recognised qualifications through the prison restaurant rehabilitation initiative. Specially assigned mentors will then provide one-to-one jobseeker support to each Clink graduate upon release from prison.
The dedicated new mentoring scheme will include:
• Three to four visits during the last month by an assigned mentor prior to release, including an interview meeting with the prospective employer. During these visits they will check what assistance the Clink graduate will require, such as accommodation and setting up a bank account.
• The mentor to meet them at the gate on the day of release.
• The mentor will accompany the graduate to his or her accommodation, if required.
• The mentor will take the graduate to work on his or her first day and arrange a travel card as required.
• The mentor will meet the graduate each week in their work place for three to six months.
• The mentor will be the link between the Clink Graduate and The Clink Charity, to provide progress feedback.
Chris Moore, chief executive of the Clink Charity, said: "The Clink Charity presents a strategic means to employing rehabilitation tactics to remedy the degenerative effect of prison sentences on those convicted.
"It is actively looking to develop The Clink concept in other prisons throughout Britain, as well as in external public locations, but in order to achieve all of this The Clink must maximise all routes to engagement with progressive businesses within the hospitality industry to secure offers of employment to ex-offenders."
Dee Smith, Springboard's head of programmes, said: "Through a dedicated mentoring process, Springboard will be ensuring everyday barriers are overcome, work experience and employment is gained, thus reducing the risk of re-offending in the future.
"We are excited to be supporting the programme as it sits clearly within the Springboard Charity's aims and continues to support innovative ways to address the industry's skills shortages."
By Janie Stamford
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