Clink kitchen to open for events catering at Surrey prison

The Clink Charity, in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS), is converting a building at HMP Downview in Surrey into a central production kitchen for Clink Events – the charity’s external events catering service.

The project will officially start training women prisoners this May, and the kitchen will be the charity's sixth site.

The creation of the new central production kitchen at HMP Downview is being jointly funded by The Clink Charity and HMPPS as well as grant making trusts and philanthropists. The project is also supported by industry equipment suppliers who are providing state of the art facilities.

Designed by Duncan Hepburn from Hepburn Associations, the kitchen will include a private dining room overlooking the kitchen providing a chef’s table seating up to 20 people.

Chris Moore, chief executive of The Clink Charity, said, “We will be training up to 30 prisoners at a time in the new central production kitchen. To date the food preparation for external events has been done through the restaurant kitchens. However, due to the success of the events, we now need to increase capacity to prepare food for these for events across London and the surrounding areas.”

Clink Events, which launched in 2014, offers catering services for public cocktail parties, receptions, buffets and dinners. Food is prepared by prisoners training for their Level 2 City and Guilds NVQs in Food Safety, Food Preparation and Food and Beverage Service. Food will be delivered in refrigerated vehicles to event venues, including Guildhall in London, which appointed Clink Events as one of its preferred caterers in January 2018.

Graduates of The Clink Charity’s rehabilitation programme, in partnership with likeminded enterprises such as Centrepoint – the UK’s leading charity for homeless young people – serve guests at the events. Service staff are given intense training in order to gain their City and Guilds Level 1 NVQ in Hospitality and to equip them with the skills and ability to serve guests efficiently and professionally. This extends The Clink’s training to vulnerable young adults, boosting their confidence and aiding their employability.

This kitchen will see approximately 50 prisoners per year gaining nationally recognised NVQs in Food Safety and Food Preparation, helping them to gain employment within the hospitality industry upon release with the help of The Clink’s mentoring programme.

Robin Eldridge, Governor of HMP Downview, also commented on the new training facility, “The creation of the Clink production kitchen at Downview is an exciting development and will further embed the positive partnership which exists between the Prison Service and The Clink Charity.

“The Clink production kitchen will offer women the opportunity to learn new skills and in doing so gain industry recognised qualifications. The practical work the women will undertake through The Clink, both within the prison and on temporary release, will improve their chances of obtaining paid employment on release and help them make a valuable contribution to their communities.”

The new kitchen project will follow The Clink Charity’s five step rehabilitation programme (Recruit – Train – Support – Employ – Mentor) and training will be overseen by Jonny Whitfield, General Manager Trainer and Christa Janse Van Rensburg Head Chef Trainer.

The Clink rehabilitation concept is expanding across Her Majesty’s Prison Estate with four restaurants already in operation. At The Clink Gardens at HMP Send and HMP High Down in Surrey prisoners are able to gain qualifications in horticulture as well as Clink Events.