Season 9 Episode 7 

We ate at a Prison Restaurant – where the food is cooked and served by inmates!!

Get ready as today we venture out of the studio (and out of our comfort zone!) to tell you all about our weird and wonderful dining experience. We headed to The Clink, a restaurant INSIDE Brixton Prison that is solely run by inmates whose sentences are nearly up. The inmates enrol in a programme to learn valuable skills they can take with them into the outside world, and evidence shows they are less likely to re-offend once they’ve completed it. The food industry can make an amazing difference to communities and we want to know what you think about it! Would you be open to dining in prison and supporting programmes like this? Tell us all about your experiences if you have been to one already, or let us know if you disagree with them. Comment below so we can get chatting!

Best soundbite“This was the hardest part bit. The most gorgeous well trained dog came up to sniff us… and we weren’t allowed to pet him!” – Ben Ebbrell

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Something to make you think...

Each of the programmes (from food and hospitality to horticulture) are teaching core skills to better the learners and give them valuable lessons before they leave. Would you go and visit?

Ebbers' Stats!

Further Stats On the Clink Program:

  • 44% of prisoners who are released return to prison within a year.
  • Learners who have gone through the program are 50% less likely to reoffend.
  •  Located at Her Majesty’s Prison in Brixton, in partnership with The Ministry of Justice and the Prison Service, it’s staffed by 15 chefs and 15 waiters… all serving prisoners, training to get their GNVQ in Food and Hospitality.
  • Currently #12 of 17k restaurant in London based on TripAdviser!
  • The menu is seasonal and changes 5 times a year, making use of local produce, some of which is grown by another arm of the charity… where prisoners are training in GNVQ in Horticulture.
  • Everything is made from scratch… sourdough breads, pastas, soups, sauces, crabs come in whole, ice creams, etc etc
  • Chairs and leather in the restaurant are made by prisoners.
  • Poetry on the walls and artwork is made by prisoners.
  • 100,000 guests through the charity (multiple sites) in a single year.
  • Training 200 prisoners at the moment.
What would you like to feast your ears on?
If you want to contribute ideas or want to hear us discuss a particular topic then email us at podcasts@sortedfood.com

6 Comments

  1. Carotte

    Thank you so much for trying it out! I never really thought about it, mainly because I don’t know anything like it. There are not a lot of news about it. I think more people would actually try it, if there were more ads for stuff like it.
    I would love to try something like it but not alone. A little bit because I am a little scared but also because I’m not gonna do that every other weekend. So I want to share the expirience with someone else.
    Also: I would love a follow up! I mean you guys can talk about as much as you want, but you will never know what it’s actually like for a former inmate. So yeah a follow up would be lovely 😊

  2. livemoreluvmore

    I think the program is so cool and useful. Anything that gets recidivism rates down gets my support. It’s really such a shame that 4/10 inmates would end up back in prison probably due to things basically out of their control.

    A follow/up: Would SORTED consider hiring ex-cons from the program? What would you think would be the up-sides or down-sides?

    For example, personally, I might be willing to hire ex-cons because they would bring more diverse thinking to a group due to their unique experience/perspectives. Whereas I’m concerned that I may not be able to support them in ways they need because “being a prisoner” may have become such a part of their identity, and acclimating into the real world may be hard. I see it as a duty for everyone to help that process as much as they can, but I fear that it may be overwhelming to handle.

    What do you think?

  3. Annie1962

    Googled this restaurant so here’s a linky.. it’s nice!
    https://www.hot-dinners.com/Gastroblog/Latest-news/clink-charity-set-to-open-restaurant-in-brixton-prison

    Not sure if I can offer an opinion as I don’t know anyone who’s been in prison, but I guess it’s a good idea to teach those near release day in having tools to be successful in society to avoid re offending.

    I hope that their opportunities don’t come at the expense of those underprivileged people ‘on the outside’ who can’t afford a culinary school or any other field for that matter.

    Where are all the listeners’ questions coming from.. surely not during the podcast as I know these are prerecorded. I’m listening on my home computer.

    • Sorted

      Definitely a good idea to help them back into society and to encourage them to stop reoffending.

      Listeners’ questions come in from all our social platforms, mainly from Ben putting tweets/instagram stories out about the topic prior to recording.

  4. Anita

    The beginning of this episode brought back prison memories, not food-related at all 🙂 I wasn’t locked up, don’t worry 🙂 The dog school where I worked as a trainer launched a prison program working together with a local dog shelter in Debrecen. So every Friday morning we would go to the rescue home, pick up the preselected rescue dogs, take them for a walk to get rid of their excess energy, then hop into our cars and headed to the prison where we went through a check-in process very similar to what you described – no pat-down, though – then we would join a selected group of inmates for a training session in a depressing, no-natural-light basement room (in the beginning, our badly socialized rescue pups didn’t even like the idea of going down there) where, under our guidance informed by the so-called mirror method (becoming really popular at that time), the inmates would teach the dogs using positive reinforcement. Of course, we had a guard watching us for safety reasons at all times. This happened in the hope of incentivizing introspection, self-awareness and the improvement of social skills (this latter could benefit the pups, too). There were dogs who got adopted by the inmates’ families and the prison could reward good behavior with participation in the program – turns out, for some reason, inmates like being around dogs and a group of mainly female trainers…

    • Sorted

      That’s so interesting, we didn’t know programmes like that existed! What a good incentive for inmates, thanks for sharing your story with us.

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