The Clink: Helen's story - In her own words
Ahead of TAI 2018 we've been profiling one of our headline sessions with The Clink, a charity that rehabilitates prisoners by providing experience at a restaurant. This is a case study to accompany our blog preview.
My name is Helen and I'm 43. I spent nine months at The Clink Restaurant at HMP Styal, under the guidance of head chef trainer Kerry.
Training at The Clink gave me the real working environment knowledge and experience to complete my studies and achieve success in my NVQ Level 2 in Professional Cookery, building on the skills and knowledge I had already achieved at Level 1.
Moreover, the experience I gained, the high standards instilled into me by Kerry and the imagination and confidence I gained from being in the kitchen will stay with me for the rest of my career.
Since graduating from The Clink, I have successfully achieved a NVQ Level 3 in Professional Cookery at College and every single day I would say that I have used or built on the knowledge and values gained initially from The Clink. Indeed, because a part of my qualification has involved supervising students at a lower level, I am in turn passing that knowledge and those standards down the line.
I have also been successful in gaining employment as a chef de partie at a Country Club, Hotel and Spa in Lancashire where I run the pastry and larder sections and am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to utilise and build on my training at The Clink.
I plan to continue my training and commence study in the autumn with an NVQ Level 3 in Patisserie and Confectionery. By undertaking a teaching qualification I will be able to teach others in a couple of years, once I have qualified as a teacher and gained more industry experience.
A huge benefit of my training with The Clink, aside from the culinary aspects, has been the ongoing support of my support worker and mentor. She has helped with everything I have needed, from organising college courses, obtaining tools and sourcing equipment to being a friendly, listening ear when required and a valuable source of information on anything and everything! It has been a massive comfort to have her on my side throughout some very challenging and difficult times. Thank you.