The thing is with The Clink… MM meet the charity where ex-offenders and homeless serve up lattes & salads

Ex-offenders and the homeless are serving up lattes and salads in a new city centre café.

The Clink charity also has a set up in Styal Prison and has been operating restaurants in prisons for nine years – resulting in an estimated 41% reduction in offending rates.

Now, they are embracing another community, outside the prison, and have set up a café which aims to break the re-offending cycle by training up ex-offenders and homeless people.

“Think of us as a catering college,” explained Jenny Thomas, the café’s General Manager.

“Our aim is to ensure the ladies become competent in their skills, whether that’s barista skills or food and beverage service, before they leave us.

“With their NVQs, they can go on to get a job in hospitality elsewhere.”

Situated off the Oxford Road beaten track in an old cotton mill, the cafe’s ethos is nothing short of innovative.

Their menu spans from gluten-free to vegan and covers everything in between – all served in compostable tableware.

Even their coffee is roasted by inmates at a young offender’s prison in Hertfordshire.

But it’s not just about what they dish up, there’s a real focus on inclusivity and challenging stereotypes at The Clink.  

For this new venture, they’ve partnered with homelessness charity Centrepoint to work with young homeless adults, to give them the skills needed to keep them off the streets.

Jenny said: “There’s such a lovely community here, whether that’s with the learners or customers – even everyone else in the building.

“In any environment you need to feel part of a team, you need to do things together – that is community spirit.”

The team have also been informally sponsored by Puma, who are providing trainers and tshirts for The Clink’s learners.

Jenny said: “Working in this environment your feet do suffer.

“Puma want to support us by sponsoring the learners so they have a bit of a uniform to wear.

“Some people might not have the funds to buy a decent pair of shoes, so at least Puma are providing their support.”

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