I don’t know about you but I have no experience of eating prison food but I would like to try it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about the food that the prisoners eat, but the food that I heard they prepare for restaurants attached to the outside of some prisons in the UK. Apparently it’s really good!

The UK prison service has set up some high class restaurants that are staffed and run by prisoners and ex-prisoners.  It turns out that the system is so successful, that one of restaurants has recently been rated the best restaurant by Trip Advisor for its region.  Now I know that Tip Advisor is not exactly the Michelin guide but independent reviews confirm the quality as being very high.

The idea of taking hardened criminals and offering them literally a way out by teaching them, not just how to cook, but how to become a great chef seems absolutely brilliant to me. And it is working too, with 100% of all prisoners, which have gone through the restaurant training system, finding jobs before they are released and none of them re-offending afterwards, since the scheme began.

But it’s not just about the food, it’s also the service, the kitchen management, the supply chain and everything else that is required to run a really top restaurant.

What do the prisoners gain from the program?

  • Self esteem
  • Respect for themselves and their colleagues
  • A useful profession that they can use anywhere in the world
  • A strong sense of Discipline
  • The absolute importance of teamwork
  • Life skills
  • A sense of accomplishment and fun

Of all people in the job market, I should imagine that ex-prisoners are the hardest to find jobs for. So it is re-assuring that these new restaurants are making a real difference to their career prospects – so much so, that it got me wondering how tough it would be for our own personnel to find a new assignment after leaving our employment?  For example: has the time they spent with us made them more employable or less employable and could we as employers ever be held responsible for the statistics we inadvertently create, in the same way as the prisons are?

It might be interesting to check the above list with our own staff to see how well we compare with those prisoners that have gone through the restaurant training program?

In any case, it’s off to the local prison for my wife and I, next time we’re in the UK!

Have a good week,