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Charity Clink is rehabilitating prisoners through event catering

The Clink Charity has converted a building at HMP Downview prison in Surrey into a central production kitchen for Clink Events, the charity’s external catering service.

Clink Events, which launched in 2014, offers catering services for public cocktail parties, receptions, buffets and dinners. Food is prepared by prisoners training for their Level 2 City and Guilds NVQs in Food Safety, Food Preparation and Food and Beverage Service.

Food will be delivered in refrigerated vehicles to event venues, including Guildhall in London, which appointed Clink Events as one of its preferred caterers in January 2018.

Over £640,000 has been invested into the creation of the new central production kitchen at HMP Downview, which has been jointly funded by The Clink Charity and HMPPS as well as grant making trusts and philanthropists. The project is also supported by industry equipment suppliers who are providing state of the art facilities.

Designed by Duncan Hepburn from Hepburn Associates and built by RDP Properties Wales Ltd, the kitchen includes a private dining room overlooking the kitchen providing a chef’s table seating up to 15 people.

Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity, said: “We train up to 24 prisoners at a time in the new central production kitchen. To date the food preparation for external events has been done through the restaurant kitchens. However, due to the success of the events, we now need to increase capacity to prepare food for these events across London and the surrounding areas.”

The kitchen will see approximately 50 prisoners per year gaining nationally recognised NVQs in Food Safety and Food Preparation, helping them to gain employment within the hospitality industry upon release with the help of The Clink’s mentoring programme.

Graduates of The Clink Charity’s rehabilitation programme, in partnership with likeminded enterprises such as Centrepoint – the UK’s leading charity for homeless young people – serve guests at the events.

Service staff are given intense training in order to gain their City and Guilds qualifications in Hospitality and to equip them with the skills and ability to serve guests efficiently and professionally. This extends The Clink’s training to vulnerable young adults, boosting their confidence and aiding their employability.