Jobs for jailbirds

A CONVICTED THIEF is sent to prison and struggles to adjust to his new environment until his culinary talents are discovered. By a very roundabout route, his kitchen skills lead to his rehabilitation. That is the plot of “Paddington 2”, a family film from 2017. It might also serve as the template for Clink. The charity trains prisoners in hospitality and catering, and ran five restaurants and cafés in Britain before the national lockdown brought about by the covid-19 pandemic. It trained 441 prisoners last year. They achieved 225 educational certificates. Over 280 employers have agreed to hire Clink graduates. Some ex-convicts have gone on to become head chefs at hotels.

Prisons are in the news because of the threat covid-19 poses to people locked up in a confined space. Some have been released early. But in normal times, which will one day return, getting prisoners back to work is one of the best ways to help their rehabilitation. A study by the Justice Data Lab, a British government body, conducted between 2009 and 2016 showed that 15% of Clink alumni reoffended, compared with 22% for other jailbirds with similar records.

Clink is not alone. Take Ali Niaz, a former drug dealer who managed to get an A-level in business during his time in prison. After his release, and a course at Madingley Hall in Cambridge, he became...



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