Insights From Prisoner to Restauranteur
25 July 2017

From Prisoner to Restauranteur

Professional Restaurant Worker

Seetec’s Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company is subcontracted to deliver a HM Prison and Probation Service project. Funded by the European Social Fund, the project supports offenders to gain paid employment. 

Service user Jimmy* referred himself to the project following his release from prison.  Prior to his custodial sentence, Jimmy had a background running restaurants in Central America. He was keen to return to this area of work and open up a restaurant within the UK.

Initial Assessment and Support

When he met with his case manager, Jimmy’s other needs were identified alongside his long term goal. He had not received any benefits and was struggling to feed himself day-to-day. His case manager could see that he was vulnerable which could lead to him reoffending. Jimmy was supported in accessing local community resources such as the BOSS food bank, so that he was at least able to eat, prior to his payments starting. 

The case manager worked intensively with Jimmy over a period of four months, helping him to write up a business plan, as well as creating the supporting documents required for a successful loan application. Jimmy’s case manager also made referrals on his behalf to agencies such as Enterprise Exchange and Biz-Britain, and acted as a point of contact gathering supporting information ready to complete a business loan application.

Throughout the loan process, Jimmy was required to make regular Skype calls with his business development worker. This was facilitated by his case manager and took place within appointments at the probation office as he did not have any internet access at that time.

Jimmy’s probation supervisor was an important point of support and encouragement and Jimmy engaged very well with the requirements placed on him. 

Jimmy applied for a business loan and was successful enabling him to open up his own restaurant. 

Successful Outcome

Jimmy has firmly placed himself at the heart of the community in the town and has not reoffended. He is introducing his customers to the Latin foods and flavours he knows and loves. It has been a challenging first year in his new restaurant, but Jimmy says he has learnt a lot over the year and is looking forward to the future as he enters his second year of trading.

“I thank you so much for being so instrumental in this amazing miracle. I will never forget you and what you do for me”, said Jimmy. 

*Name has been changed to protect privacy