Full of Potential: The Right Course
Eleanor De, about 4 years ago
The Right Course is a programme that is designed to transform staff restaurants in prisons into high street like businesses, using existing facilities and equipment. This means there is no cost to the taxpayer and the restaurants will be run by prisoners for the benefit of all in the prison system.
It was devised by Fred Sirieix in conjunction with HMP Isis and DM Thomas Foundation for Young People and has been developed with the help of a number of key partners, including Hilton, Landsec, Novus and the Ministry of Justice, to provide training, employment and support for young people. The Right Course is founded on the idea that hospitality is about always giving first and giving generously, and is governed by the following values: will to succeed, vision, discipline, ownership, leadership, respect, hard work, reliability, entrepreneurial spirit and joy.
We met with Fred to ask him some questions about The Right Course.
As Fred said,
“the beauty of the hospitality industry is that it's open to everybody and everyone is welcome…the right attitude, the right skill, that's what it's about". The Right Course team work hard to instil these values in the young people to inspire them to achieve excellence in the restaurant service industry.
The aims of The Right Course include:
Quality – to achieve 90% guest satisfaction
Profitability – to ensure that the restaurant is run economically
Employability – job opportunities offered to 100% of graduating participants
Reduce reoffending – no reoffending of graduating participants 1 year after release
The Right Course pilot is currently underway at HMP Isis in their staff restaurant, The Quays. In 2016 and 2017 a series of showcase dining events at the prison were held in partnership with top chefs Chris Galvin, Jose Pizarro and Chris Thompson to teach young offenders professional skills and to exhibit the potential of The Quays to promote the abilities of the young people which, in turn, will help them enter the world of hospitality upon completing their sentence. The events were very well received, with comments from guests including:
“The young men were brilliant and the whole set up was incredible from the service to the rapport and the ambiance."
“What a huge success, and a wonderful atmosphere. How very strange in a way that there was more warmth in that room in prison than there is in most restaurant dining rooms. There was a strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork… and real friendliness."
The long-term aims include transforming the staff restaurants in all London prisons, with a view to expanding The Right Course across the UK and introducing takeaway and delivery services whilst continuing to “educate and teach the offenders the necessary professional foundations, key life skills and personal values that will allow them to secure a job and return home to lead a productive and law-abiding life as well as contribute to a thriving and professional industry, where it is evident that there is a staff and skills shortage".
In terms of employing ex-offenders, Fred notes that “the process of employing ex-offenders is exactly the same as employing people who haven't offended…It's not really difficult. All you have to do is want to do it and then go and do it!".