Celebrating and promoting the best in UK prisons, probation and youth justice
COMMENDEES 2013-14: Catering Manager, Lecturer (MotherwellCollege) & Catering Officer: for contributions to promoting healthy eating and life skills among prisoners.
Philip Humphreys, Steven Scott and Stewart MacPherson have been commended for their innovative catering programme at HMP Glenochil. Through ‘drive, determination and creativity’, they designed and implemented a ‘training kitchen’, where offenders have learned cooking techniques, food hygiene and life skills that have helped them towards gaining employment after release.
The combined skills of the commendees have culminated in ‘an excellent example of partnership working’ that could easily be replicated in other establishments, according to John Whyte of the prison’s Catering Department. After signing up for a six-week period of study, prisoners are mentored by the team to learn about all aspects of catering, including food hygiene, cooking the food, the value of fresh ingredients and managing budgets. During their time in the training kitchen they are exposed to the same kinds of pressure as in a commercial kitchen and leave with SVQ units in Food Preparation and Cookery Processes, as well as the industry standard REHIS qualification in Elementary Food Hygiene.
While many participants have gone on to study catering at college on release, and others have used the qualification gained from the course to enter full-time employment, the course has proved equally valuable in instilling confidence, self-worth, group interaction skills and mutual respect. An added benefit for the establishment is in the improvement of staff and prisoner relationships, further aided by the teamwork events such as football sessions, devised to help bonding and encourage peer-led support. Another popular initiative has been the ‘Masterchef’ competition, where students’ own creations have been independently judged.
At the end of the course, prisoners’ families are invited to share in a certificate presentation, marking the first real sense of achievement for many participants and helping to support the family unit.
Not complacent with all they have achieved, Stewart, Philip and Steven encourage written feedback from students so they can evaluate the course and make sure it remains focused on prisoners’ needs. As a result of this process, commercial ventures have been developed, with the training kitchen providing a buffet service for formal events.
Participants have been keen to state the positive impact the initiative has had on them, and on their prospects. Among them, A, a winner of the Masterchef competition said: ‘I have been in and out of prison for years and I really did not know how to cook or how to look after my money. Every week ended in a sense of achievement, every minute spent was about learning and they are great teachers… when my family came for the presentation they thought it was amazing.’
For more information: contact HMP Glenochil