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The Clink Charity plans 20 training facilities in prisons by 2020

The charity wants to offer training and jobs to 1,000 offenders a year through its unique restaurant projects at Britain's prison estate.

Britain’s prisons are floundering, badly, with overcrowding and violence. Suicide and self-harm inside is on the rise. And the government’s promise to deliver a “rehabilitation revolution” to change the criminal justice system and stop reoffending has yet to come to pass.

One social enterprise, however, is leading the way in giving prisoners a second chance. The Clink Charity uses the power of food to help offenders begin building a new life, reducing the chance of reoffending happening upon release.

The Clink has six training facilities based around kitchens, restaurants and the growing of food at prisons across England and Wales.

It now has plans to operate 20 separate training facilities by the end of 2020. The plan will see more than 1,000 prisoners and ex-prisoners trained and given the opportunity of gainful employment each year.

Working with Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the social enterprise is currently training up to 160 prisoners a day, each one working 40 hours per week whilst heading towards accredited NVQ qualifications in Food Preparation, Food Service and Food Hygiene.

There are four restaurants across the prison estate, while the Clink Gardens project sees female offenders at HMP Send grow and harvest fresh produce for use in the restaurants.

The Clink is doing great things for prisons, people, local communities and the reputation of Britain’s catering industry

The Times’ food critic Giles Coren said the enterprise “is doing great things for prisons, people, local communities and the reputation of Britain’s catering industry, and I salute it unreservedly.”

The Clink Restaurant at HMP Cardiff is currently rated the No.1 restaurant in the Welsh capital, according to TripAdvisor.

The social enterprise recently received a £10,000 prize fund from the Centre for Social Justice Award back in March, money that will go towards building more projects and setting up a support fund for graduates as they re-enter society.

“In 2017 we have worked hard to establish new and engaging ways to raise funds for the charity and offer additional hands-on experiences for our trainees and graduates to learn from,” said Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity.

Tickets are now on sale for The Clink Charity’s annual fundraiser at St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay.

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