If you were ordering a take-away meal, you might not expect a prison to offer its services.
But Brixton prison in south London is cooking, selling and delivering take-away meals.
The intention is to keep its training restaurant functioning during the pandemic.
The prison has a professional-standard restaurant, the Clink, which teaches culinary skills to prisoners – to help them get jobs when they are released.
But the Covid-19 pandemic has stopped guests coming inside the prison to eat at the restaurant – and its closure took away the inmates’ training.
So the restaurant has turned to selling take-aways – [email protected] – with meals brought to customers in the prison project’s delivery van.
The purpose of the restaurant project is to provide job skills to cut reoffending rates.
Chris Moore, chief executive of the Clink charity, says switching to the take-away service allows inmates to keep training for catering qualifications.
Customers in a five-mile radius can order a meal online, which will be cooked in the prison restaurant, under the supervision of chefs.
After starting last week, the service has all its delivery slots booked for this week.
The restaurant is designed to teach work-related skills, leading to City and Guilds catering qualifications, with the professional menu intended to allow ex-offenders to get jobs when they are released.
This also makes it an unusual take-away menu, including dishes like “sun-dried tomato and parmesan arancini with rocket pesto” as a starter for £3.95 and “sea bream en papillote with Mediterranean vegetables and salsa verde” as a main course for £9.
But Mr Moore says that for the first week, the most popular take away orders have been jerk chicken and katsu curry.
Keeping the kitchens open for take aways gives inmates useful work and keeps up their training, says Mr Moore.
“It’s investing in someone’s future.
“They get a chance to get their life back on track and not be a burden on society,” he says.
“It’s giving someone a second chance.”
The project, which has links with 280 employers, has been backed by research from the Ministry of Justice, which wants to reduce the £18bn cost to taxpayers of reoffending.
Researchers for the ministry found a significant reduction in the risk of reoffending for those who had been through the Clink restaurant training.
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