The Clink Charity – The Missing Link in the Penitentiary System

Prisoners serving at the launchIn the UK 49.6% of criminals reoffend within the 1st year of release from prison, this increases to 75% within the first 5 years. There is obviously one resounding flaw in our penitentiary system, the lack of re-education and rehabilitation for the inmates. How are they supposed to integrate back into society when for the last X years they have received no training or education?

So in 2009, Chef Alberto Crisci formulated a plan to remedy, and the first Clink Restaurant was born.

He began by collaborating with Peter Dawson, Governor of HMP High Down (2007-2012), and founder trustee Kevin McGrath, to construct a new way of reintroducing offenders into society. The aim was to take prisoners into a culinary workplace during the last 6-18 months of their sentence and train them in the art of food preparation and front of house service. So Alberto began with training the inmates of HMP High Down, and this idea became a reality which led to The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down opening in May 2009 with The Clink Charity being formed in 2010 to support the plan of rolling the concept out across the prison estate.

Jason Toussaint - sous chef and trainer at The Clink at HMP BrixtonFour years on we are celebrating the opening of The Clink’s third training restaurant – The Clink Restaurant at HMP Brixton – and ONIN London acquired a slot in Chief Executive Chris Moore’s diary to chat about the charity.

He informed us there is a skills shortage in the catering industry, but of equal importance is the restaurants setting allowing prisoners to build confidence and exposes them to working in a team. Therefore making restaurants an ideal place to educate inmates.

He also told us more about the set up. Prisoners apply for a position in the restaurant when the have 6-18 months left of their sentence, they then go through a screening process before being offered a place. The charity is looking for a bit of ‘spark and passion’ in the candidates and for those willing to learn and grow. Once selected it’s off to the restaurant, however the support doesn’t end there. The offender is assisted with job applications and their CV, and are assigned a mentor upon release to communicate with and receive weekly visits to monitor progress.

The Clink restaurant at HMP BrixtonWhat attracted The Clink to Brixton you may ask? Well the prison fits the bill as a category C/D prison and is located in eclectic Brixton which creates a corking match!

I know what you are all thinking, can anyone visit the restaurant?

The simple answer is no. The Clink want to promote a real interest in the charity and limit the seating to prospective employers, industry specialists or individuals with a convincing reasoning.

Although we know the strict airport security and plastic cutlery has you all intrigued!

This detail is actually a combination of prison security and a symbolic meaning, the latter aiding to remind diners that although the restaurant is high end it’s purpose is actually to help reduce reoffending.

But you guys can help, you can sign up for The Clink newsletter, support the charity financially, donate equipment or get in touch with employability prospects for the inmates. If you are really keen you can try your hand at the dining reservations application form!

So get in touch and get involved, and help The Clink form the missing link.


Reporter: Aspen Glencross

The Clink Brixton

Jebb Avenue, Brixton