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Action Learning in Action – A Perspective on Social Impact and Rehabilitation

In delivering the SEEK social enterprise programme, we try to introduce the participants to new experiences, networks and organisations that help disadvantaged people. Most of our activities are delivered at our business centre, Weatherill House, but last week we got the chance to hold one of our Action Learning Sets at The Clink Restaurant meeting room at HMP High Down.

Our Action Learning Sets help bring the participants together to share issues or problems they are encountering with the set up of their social enterprise and get feedback, advice and share networks with each other.  Yet on this occasion it also gave them an opportunity to see and hear first hand how prisoners nearing the end of their sentence are being trained and supported into employment in the hospitality, catering and horticulture industries.  During the Action Learning Set, the Clink Charity’s Support Worker, Liz Elliott, explained the origins, journey and future plans for the charity.

Founded in 2009, the charity has four restaurants in different prisons across England and Wales and provides City & Guilds NVQ training in not only front of house and the kitchen but also in horticulture for those working in the gardens where they grow their own produce which supplies the kitchens.  They also have an outside events service where they have partnered with homelessness charity Centrepoint to provide catering for events, prepared by the prisoners and served by trained people who have been affected by homelessness.  To enhance this service, they have also developed and installed a production kitchen at neighbouring HMP DownView and over the next two years plan to roll out their Clink Kitchens project to provide NVQ training within the existing kitchens of 75 other prisons across the country.

Our SEEK participants also learned that initiatives like the Clink do achieve their social impact ambitions.  Currently across the country, they train up to 200 prisoners a day and last year alone helped train 304 prisoners. Independent research also proved that their initiatives have helped reduce re-offending by 49.6% through their approaches and post release support.

So if you are looking for an alternative place for a client meeting, an anniversary or birthday treat for a loved one or you need someone to provide catering for your event, take a look at their website Not only will you be getting fantastic, professionally cooked and served food, you will be helping support their work to give prisoners a livelihood and chance to rebuild their lives.

SEEK participants, coaches/trainers and partners enjoy their visit to The Clink, HMP High Down

SEEK is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.

Restaurant photo and logo provided courtesy of The Clink Charity.

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