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Stories of Change - An Innovative Approach to the Rehabilitation of Prisoners

Author: Shagana Ehamparam
Published Date: 29 May 2015

At SIX we think it is important to tell stories where social innovation has impacted people’s lives for the better. Our Stories of Change series tells you the stories that inspire us from around the world. This particular story was inspired by a recent SIX team visit to the Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton.

Steven had issues with substance abuse that spiraled out of control. It led him to homelessness, crime, loss of family and friends and soon after, prison. Seeing that he needed to change his lifestyle, he searched for treatment and support while in prison and along with prison drug programmes, he came across the Clink Restaurant’s training programme.

Reoffending by prisoners has become one of the most pressing issues faced by society today. 45.2% of adult prisoners in similar situations to Steve reoffend within one year of being released. For those serving sentences of less than 12 months, this increases to 57.5%.

Launched in 2009, the Clink Restaurants is an initiative by the Clink Charity - a charity that aims to reduce reoffending rates of ex-offenders by training and placing graduates, upon their release, into employment in the hospitality industry. Their restaurants are opened to the public and all food and desserts are prepared, cooked and served by the prisoners enrolled in the Clink’s training programme. Each prisoner works and trains for 40 hours. Currently, there are four locations: HMP Brixton, HMP Cardiff, HMP High Down, and HMP Styal.

“Working at The Clink opened my eyes to teamwork, working with the public but most of all being myself and gaining the confidence to do so,” reflects Steve.

To date, over 500 prisoners have graduated from the Clink’s training programme and the reoffending rate of these graduates has been significantly lower than the national average of 47%. In 2010, only 14% of Clink graduates reoffended and in 2011, it reduced to 12.5%. In 2012, the Clink programme trained 88 prisoners and 26 were released into employment and out of these 88, only one of those graduates to date have reoffended.

The Clink Restaurant has been recognised with numerous awards including the 2011 Catey Award for Best Education and Training Programme in the UK.

“I am grateful for what the Clink gave me in terms of training and support and I know that in the future I have a second career to fall back on if I need it. Prison and the Clink gave me the focus and determination I needed to stay clean and start again. I never thought I would get a second chance.”

Learn more about the Clink Restaurants and read more personal stories at theclinkcharity.org