After two years of negotiation, the contract has been signed for Oswin Project’s training cafe at HMP Northumberland. Site clearance has already taken place, and construction and fit out are under way with the aim of an opening in Autumn 2019.
Over three month periods, cohorts of 12 prisoners will learn craft bakery skills, undergo barista training and develop the hospitality skills needed to run Café 16 – increasing their chances of finding work when they leave prison.
Some cafe workers will stay on beyond three months, in order to gain higher qualifications that will further enhance their future job prospects.
With the help of the Oswin Project, Café 16 will serve up high quality, freshly prepared and good value food and drinks to prison staff and their visitors on a daily basis.
Fiona Sample, CEO of the Oswin Project, said: “Café 16 is perfectly aligned to our charity’s core aims, which are all about creating second chances and transforming lives.
“The support we will offer through this café is unique because we begin working with offenders during their sentence and continue to support them through the prison gates and into employment upon release.
“By helping our ‘Oswinners’ to gain qualifications and experience during café work, we’re also providing them with the opportunity to find employment within the hospitality and service sectors, in-turn plugging vital skills gaps in these industries.
“The government reports that reoffending costs the taxpayer a staggering £9.5 to £13 billion per year, while there is overwhelming evidence that ex-offenders who find employment are far less likely to return to crime. The Oswin Project’s employability work supports this and helps to develop a virtuous circle that prevents reoffending and benefits us all.”