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Justice

Sodexo and Prisons: How Sodexo is Committed to Employing Ex-Offenders

As part of Sodexo’s Public Service Pledge, we have committed to employing ex-offenders or offenders on Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) in the U.K. 

HMP Bronzefield is an adult (18+) female prison located in Ashford in Middlesex, England. Bronzefield is the largest female prison in Europe with capacity for up to 557 prisoners. The prison is operated by Sodexo Justice Services. It opened in 2004 as a purpose-built facility and serves as a step-change for prison facilities for women in the U.K. Bronzefield is a dynamic, forward-thinking prison that accommodates a diverse and complex population of Category A prisoners (high-risk, restricted status prisoners). 

Gail was a prisoner sentenced to three-and-a-half-years, of which she served 17 months at Bronzefield. While there, she was determined to take every opportunity offered to her.  

Gail signed up for educational courses and got involved in the Sodexo-run workshops. These workshops include a staff restaurant, textile workshop, hair salon and more, and provide opportunities for prisoners to manage operations and learn new skills, all of which prove helpful when it comes to prisoner job placement after incarceration.  

Gail had previously run her own sandwich shop business in South West London, so the prison staff restaurant, Vita Nova, appealed to her. She got a job there within six weeks of arriving at Bronzefield.  

"I liked [working in the restaurant] because it felt no different to a normal working routine," Gail said. 

The restaurant, run by two qualified chefs, trains prisoners in several ways, including:  

  • Knife skills
  • Barista skills
  • Food Hygiene Certification
  • Allergen awareness  

In addition to serving staff meals daily, the restaurant team caters special functions too, producing buffet food for high profile guests.  

Gail supplemented her work in the restaurant with classroom training, where she was able to successfully complete a Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) cleaning course.  

"The prison team encourages you to think of employment opportunities after your release, such as setting up your own cleaning business, and gives you the skills to do it," said Gail.  

In June 2018, under ROTL, Gail was given the opportunity to work for Sodexo at the London headquarters in Holborn. She travelled in from Bronzefield four days a week to work in the Sodexo staff restaurant as a barista. In October 2018, she was offered a full-time job.  

Thanks to her training through the prisoner program, Gail has been a valued team member at the restaurant since 2018, an example, she says, of what you can do if you take advantage of the opportunities presented to you.  Today, Gail serves as an inspiration to others at Bronzefield and has been invited back to speak several times.

October 02, 2020

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