Five minutes with Chris Moore

Five minutes with Chris Moore

When you think of ‘The Clink’, what springs to mind? Probably not a group of restaurants and a charitable organisation. But, that’s what Chris Moore is running – a charity and accompanying restaurants that aim to reduce re-offending rates of ex-offenders.

Chris’ innovative model is helping lower re-offending rates and contributes more than 500 qualified trainees into the British hospitality industry each year.

“Lots of businesses say it, but we really believe in our partnerships”

We are a genuine partnership with the prisons where we operate. We help them deliver training to prisoners, develop their skills and ultimately, reduce reoffending. Sadly, 45 per cent of prisoners released re-offend within the first year and 75 per cent re-offend within the first five years. Through our mentoring programme, we have the re-offence rate down to 12.5 per cent.

“Why shouldn’t business and the third sector work together to build up those who are downtrodden and broken?”

At The Clink, we have always done a lot around sustainability. We grow our own food, produce our own compost, buy British and even make our own bread and pasta. However, we are also in the business of the sustainability of people. By that I mean we’re out to turn people’s lives around and reintroduce them to society in a positive way. The aim is that after their time training at The Clink, they can contribute to society and get their families and lives back together. That would make, and is already making, society a safer place because it reduces crime and is ultimately saving taxpayers’ money. We certainly see our role as getting people back on their feet so that they can stand up as a citizen and be accountable rather than a cost to society.

“Business has a role in taking care of the community”

Look at the catering industry, there is a major skills shortage at the moment in an industry that is set to grow by ten per cent before the end of 2017. That’s an exciting but similarly alarming prospect. It’s the kind of prospect that makes our work more important than ever, and shows how businesses are always able to do good for society. When we release a man or a woman into the catering industry possessing great qualifications then they are snapped up quickly. I think that’s why it’s fair to say that we do see ourselves as a mode of support and an asset to the catering industry because we are helping them solve their problem of recruitment and skills.

“I had a health scare and it made me think, ‘what’s life all about?"

I looked at my career and saw it split into three parts. I was learning at the beginning, earning in the middle and the third should be time to give back. I looked around for charities and I found The Clink. They weren’t looking for chief execs at the time, but it was showing great signs of success. I volunteered for the first year and during that 12 months I came up with the idea to roll out the restaurant idea. After nine months I was chief executive.

“A great by-product of a business is educating the public”

Over 60,000 members of the public dined with us last year. So, on top of everything that we are doing for prisoners, prisons and our own staff, I would like to think that we are helping to educate the public about prisons. We are changing the public perception of prisoners and helping them realise that the prison population is just a cross section of society. Our field of operations means we have become reasonably well known, however there are lots of other great things out there that already exist for prisoners. I like to say that we are just one of many workshops. People get to hear about The Clink because the public is an integral part of our training programme but there are plenty of other rehabilitation initiatives that operate with different outcomes, construction and upholstery for example.

“When appropriate, always work with others”

The key thing about what we do is that we are a fully integrated programme. We take the prisoner and we look after them through the end of their sentence and meet them when they leave. This start-to-finish approach is something that I would love to see emulated, whether it be in businesses, the third or the public sector. Because we take a long-term view and take on a proper commitment, there is no way for the people we are training to fall into re-offending and going back to prison. Where we do need support – when we start to work more with homeless people or people with substance abuse for example – then we will engage with others, like national and local charities, but we would be sure that there is always someone from The Clink who is the dedicated point of contact for the prisoner to reach out to. Continuity is key. Consider what happens upon release: quite often, the prisoner will be released with money in their hand, but nobody on the outside knows that they’re coming out, or at least nobody that can help them. If they haven’t got jobs, accommodation and somewhere to live then they just go straight back. That’s why we have our own support workers – to facilitate that through the people that we work with.