Under the scheme the industry charity will give prisoners working as chefs and waiters at The Clink at High Down Prison in Sutton the chance to receive dedicated support and guidance from their own individual mentor to help them find employment both prior to release and afterwards.
The restaurant, which is the only one of its kind within a prison in the UK, enables offenders to work towards recognisable qualifications in catering and customer service during the last six to 18 months of their sentence by cooking and serving food to paying members of the public.
Under the scheme mentors will guide prisoners through an interview with a prospective employer; meet them on the day of release; accompany them to accommodation and their first day of work; and meet the ex-offender at work every week for up to six months to check their progression.
Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity, said: “The Clink has successfully trained 84 prisoners to date and this graduate mentoring scheme, launched in partnership with Springboard, will implement crucial employment mentoring in the months before and after a prisoner’s release.”
Dee Smith, Springboard’s head of programmes, said: “Through a dedicated mentoring process, Springboard will be ensuring everyday barriers are overcome, work experience and employment is gained, thus reducing the risk of re-offending in the future.
“We are excited to be supporting the programme as it sits clearly within The Springboard Charity’s aims and continues to support innovative ways to address the industry’s skills shortages.”
The Clink Charity is currently seeking to implement the restaurant concept in other prisons and external public locations throughout Britain, but Moore believes the success of such an initiative relies on teamwork within the industry.
“In order to achieve all of this The Clink must maximise all routes to engagement with progressive businesses within the hospitality industry to secure offers of employment to ex-offenders.”