Connect to us
We are delighted to have been invited once again to supply the canapés for the Longford Lecture, an annual event run by The Longford Trust. The event will take place on Thursday 21st November at Church House in London and it will be the fourth year in a row that the charity has been asked to be involved.
Prisoners in training at The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down will prepare 3,000 cold canapés at the prison before 3663 delivers them to the event at Church House in London, as has been done for the past three years. This year is slightly different however as The Clink Charity has partnered with Centre Point, a charity for the homeless, and will be training 12 Centre Point clients to become waiters. The 12 waiters will then attend the evening event to serve guests the canapés made by the prisoners in training at The Clink Restaurant.
The Clink Charity team will be working with Centre Point to provide a cocktail and canapé reception and Bianca Jagger, social and human rights advocate, current Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation and a former actress, will speak at the event.
15/11/13Ross travels to Scotland to talk to other prisoners about his experience at The Clink Restaurant
Ross’ Story: I lost my parents when I was young and grew up in children’s homes, foster care and boarding schools. My life spiralled out of control through substance abuse and when I was a teenager, I was sent to a young offender’s prison. When I was released I tried to get my life on track. I met my partner and had two beautiful children, however old habits die hard and I was arrested, tried and sent back to prison.
This is when I found myself at HMP High Down, where I had the opportunity to work on the wings of the main prison dishing up food.
I expressed an interest in working at The Clink Restaurant and was lucky enough to get an interview with The Clink, the founder and director of operations. I saw how a well organised and structured kitchen ran and I wanted to be part of it. They gave me a chance. This was the start of my life-changing career path.
After been released from HMP High Down in 2011, I was met by my Clink mentor, who secured me an interview at the Lancaster London Hotel. I went through a verbal and practical interview and met with the head chefs.
Some days later I received a call with great news – they were willing to take me on. I started as an apprentice in September 2011 in the banqueting section, a large operation producing incredible plated food for up to 2000 guests at a time. I then went on to work in room service, the lounge bar, pastry, larder and finally their 2AA Rosette restaurant.
I am so grateful to The Clink, the restaurants and the Lancaster London Hotel for not giving up on me as so many people and organisations had done in the past. When a position became available at The Clink, I applied for it as a reintegrated member of society and was delighted to return to HMP High Down, this time on the right side of the fence.
I now have the opportunity to give something back to the people that helped me become the person I am today and my recent visit to Scotland gave me the chance to try and help others who are in the same position I once was. Here’s a short breakdown of my experience…
- Who was I talking to? 10 short-term offenders at HMP Dumfries in South West Scotland (a Category A prison – the highest prison security category in the UK.)
- Why was I talking? I was invited by Springboard UK to tell the positive story of my journey through prison and out the other side into a successful career in hospitality, with the support of The Clink. First-hand experiences are always stronger than a third party. The objective was to give the group of prisoners inspiration, career ideas, hope and encouragement that they can change their life.
- What did I take from it? I’d like to think I have played my part in making a difference to the lives of some other young men who like me, had lost their way a bit, made mistakes and now wanted help and the opportunity to get their lives back on track. To think that my story and experience could help them do that makes me feel as though I’m giving something back and playing a part in reducing reoffending rates in the UK.
- What did the prisoners at HMP Dumfries take from it? The group responded really positively to hearing my story and all said that they could relate to it. We presented the talk in a ‘Piers Morgan’s Life Stories’ style where someone from Springboard interviewed me using a list of pre-agreed questions giving the whole thing a more relaxed and informal feel. We then opened up the discussion, taking questions from the group. The guys were really responsive and felt comfortable enough to get involved with the conversation, which was really great.
- What was the outcome of the trip? Everyone appreciated the time and trouble taken to ‘keep it real’. By having an ex-offender who had gone on to be a success it showed that there was a way out of what can often feel like a vicious circle. It prompted the group to go on and join Springboard’s IWiSH (Into Work in Scottish Hospitality) programme from which they have all now successfully graduated. I wish them the best of luck in their future and want to thank Springboard for enabling me to help them in my own way.
15/11/13An exhibition of paintings and prints by artist Bill Barr comes to The Clink Conference Centre at HMP High Down
A display of paintings and prints by the late Bill Barr, an artist from Southampton, will take up residency in the Richmond Room at The Clink Conference Centre at HMP High Down in Sutton, Surrey, later this month. The exhibition will run from Monday 25th November until Friday 20th December 2013.
Sadly Barr lost his battle with cancer in July 2013 and prior to his death he stated that he wished for all proceeds of his exhibition to The Clink Charity to support the work in prisoner rehabilitation through skills training – a cause he felt passionate about.
Born in 1945 in Southampton, Barr had painted since he was a young child, following in the footsteps of his parents. However, the need to support his family led him into business and creative design. Painting remained a hobby until Barr entered his fifties and began to pursue it professionlly.
Barr would spend months at a time in France. Some of his best pieces were created at the ‘Club Arte Catalina de Erauso’ in San Sebastien, from where he took musical inspiration to create a collection of paintings depicting jazz musicians.
Barr’s artwork will be available to buy from HMP High Down throughout the exhibition with all proceeds going to The Clink Charity to help support the running of The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down, The Clink Cymru at HMP Cardiff and The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton which is due to open in February 2014.
To book a table at The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down please click here.
15/11/13Clink Success Story
Meet Michael, a graduate of The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down, who has turned his life around following a succession of stints in prison. His mother was sent to prison when he was just nine and Michael found himself on a downward spiral of petty crime and drug dealing. Now working in a London venue full-time, this is his story…
Looking back at the life I’ve lived, I never once thought that my mentality would change and I’d be leading a pro-social existence with positive goals and ambitions.
I come from an environment where crime was the natural path, the same way the son of an entrepreneur may dream of being part of his dad’s legacy. My mum was a drug dealer and although as a child I wasn’t aware of what she was doing, once she was arrested I became aware of her source of income and I naturally assumed that this was the norm.
One thing led to another and I ended up in prison for selling crack cocaine and heroin. I was 18. My mum had been in prison since I was nine, so for half of my life I had no guidance or sense of direction.
After a few years of petty drug dealing I’d had enough and began looking for work and stumbled into a job at a bank. I’d always been good with numbers and didn’t mention the fact I’d been to prison for 18 months for obvious reasons. Ironically after 18 months of working as a customer advisor they found out about my dark secret and asked me to leave or face legal action. After that I convinced myself I was a crook and that was that. I went straight back to the world I had previously tried to escape from and six months later I was back in prison, this time for gun crime.
Two years into my sentence I began to reflect on the direction my life had gone and started feeling sorry for myself, until I had a ‘eureka’ moment. I knew if I didn’t find something I genuinely liked doing (that was legal) I’d either end up spending the rest of my life in and out of prison or worse, dead.
One night, in the lonely confines of my cell, I began watching a programme called Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. I thought to myself, I could do this with a little dedication. I began fully immersing myself in anything to do with food.
With this new-found enthusiasm I ended up in a D category prison with the chance to work or study outside the prison gates. One of the officers asked me if I’d heard of The Clink Charity explaining that it was a high end restaurant within a prison that trained inmates and found them employment after release.
I successfully secured a placement and within three months of working and training at the restaurant, The Clink Charity had sourced a potential job at a Harbour & Jones site serving meals.
Despite this, once I was released from prison, unfortunately I was unable to continue working as the probation service required me to attend offender behaviour courses that clashed with the working hours. Being free after four and a half years in prison was very challenging. My mentality had changed but I was still in the environment that moulded me into the person I no longer wanted to be.
One day, on my way to Croydon I was stopped by a few friends I’d known prior to prison. We spoke for a few minutes and they offered me a lift. Shortly after, we were stopped by the police and they found drugs in the car, implicating me in the crime.
I was sent back to prison for my involvement. I was broken. My confidence and sense of purpose evaporated. It was as if no matter what I tried to do, prison would always rear its ugly head.
Within a few weeks of being back I was contacted by The Clink. Seeing them after all they had done for me was heart-breaking. They could see I was a defeated man. To my surprise they did everything they physically could to help me. I think they knew I was unlucky and believed I had the potential to be somebody.
The Clink immediately wrote to the parole board explaining that they would support me in finding employment and mentoring me in order to make better decisions. I went back to The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down where I managed to complete my City & Guilds NVQ and acquire more skills. I was eventually released again after seven months of support and guidance from The Clink Charity.
I no longer associate with criminals and have slowly started to build a network of friends who encourage me to stay positive and follow my dreams. For me, The Clink Restaurant is a place where if you want to change your life for the better, they will give you the tools and training to do so. You just have to pick them up and use them.
Thank you to The Clink Charity…you changed my life.
- November 2013 (5)
- October 2013 (1)
- September 2013 (1)
- July 2013 (8)
- May 2013 (6)
- April 2013 (8)
- January 2013 (5)
- November 2012 (8)
- October 2012 (2)
- September 2012 (8)
- August 2012 (1)
- July 2012 (6)
- June 2012 (5)
- May 2012 (7)
- April 2012 (8)
- March 2012 (8)
- February 2012 (8)
- January 2012 (6)
- December 2011 (5)
- November 2011 (5)
- October 2011 (8)
- September 2011 (7)
- July 2011 (8)
- June 2011 (9)
- May 2011 (7)
- April 2011 (4)
- March 2011 (8)
- February 2011 (3)
- January 2011 (5)
- December 2010 (1)
- November 2010 (1)
- October 2010 (2)
Alberto Crisci Ambassadors Awards Christmas Clink Merchandise Corporate Social Responsibility Donate Events Ex-Offenders in Employment Farms and Gardens Graduate Reunion Graduate Stories Graduate Update Meet the Team Mentoring Merchandise New Menus Reducing Reoffending Rehabilitation Results Retail Sponsor Statistics Success Stories Sustainability The Clink Charity The Clink Cymru The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down Training