Completed: Friday 22nd September
*Apologies for posting this later than usual – due to the nature of a high security prison, this blog post had to be approved before I could post it.
The Clink, what’s The Clink? Good question! It is the original restaurant (now in a chain with three other prisons) opened in 2009 in HMP High Down where by the prisoners are trained in catering and customer service to help them gain skills to be able to use when they leave. They can take great encouragement from the review of the re-offending results. The results found that for every 100 typical people participating in The Clink’s training scheme, 17 would go on to re-offend within a year of release whereas for every 100 typical non-participants in a group of similar people, 29 would re-offend within a year. This indicates that for The Clink Charity there has been a 41.0% reduction in the likelihood of re-offending for those participating in the programme. The opportunity to work and learn practical skills was clearly very appreciated by those we met. More than 800 prisoners have graduated from training courses so far. All the prisoners work really hard to be in their roles – six months training for front of house, and a year for kitchen staff; this means they have all the necessary knowledge to be able to work in top class restaurants when they leave. I went with my parents, having heard about it from my Dad who had had a staff Christmas dinner there a couple of years ago. Because the restaurant is within the walls of this category B prison all guests must have security clearance before being allowed in. No phones or cameras can be taken in so I was only able to take a photo of us outside by the sign in the car park and my exciting jar of tomato relish I bought which is from a range of chutneys also made by the prisoners.
Although you have to enter through various check points and security controlled doors to get to the restaurant, once inside it is another world. It is set up for fine dining, and I have to say it was genuinely some of the best food I’ve ever had. Really interesting ingredients and presentation make for a delicious menu to choose from. I went for the fig and gorgonzola tart tatin to start, squash and marrow cannelloni for main, and poached pear and sorbet for dessert. A deserving shout out also for the amazing mocktail of passionfruit and other things which we all had and couldn’t get enough of. Our waiter happened to be the head waiter, and proudly told us he had been prepping the mocktail from scratch the previous day. He did an excellent job not only advising us on different drinks and dishes but had also remembered our various dietary requirements and ensured we were fully catered for.
[Examples of dishes made in The Clink]
It was a brilliant lunchtime experience, and what a great way to support those trying to turn their lives around and deserve a second chance. The website describes it as ‘an innovative approach to rehabilitation’. It’s certainly that; the many awards it was won over the years are well deserved and a mark of how good the training scheme is and how well it has worked.
For more on this initiative visit The Clink charity website.
To see the full list of 30 things I’m doing, you can see the original post here.