Around 3 years ago our bakery team at HMP Berwyn had an idea that changed the way we look at prison catering and how we hope to rehabilitate people in prison working for us in prison kitchens in a different way. Along with a local restaurant group we created The Custodial Pie Corporation early in 2017 and have worked hard ever since developing the project and weaving it into the catering & hospitality pathways inside the prison. In addition, our ROTL program, in providing realistic experiences and development of individuals' skills in catering & hospitality, is helping the men find employment upon release and integrate back into society.
Berwyn’s multi award winning Custodial Pie Corporation Release on Temporary Licence project is currently producing some of the best pastry products in Wales with locally sourced Welsh ingredients baked by the people working in our bakery in the kitchen.
The project, in partnership with the Dylan’s Restaurant Group, has offered men on ROTL at Berwyn the chance to work as part of a small team both inside the prison and externally in selling a homemade, hand finished food product in a retail setting across Wales. The prison bakery team has also mobilised a pie production process, in line with similar external bakery business, that is developing the existing skills of men working in the prison kitchen.
The project has won various nationally recognised food based awards and catered for a variety of events with some celebrities and royal clients. Our plans are to continue over summer 2021 and beyond working at multiple food festivals throughout Wales delivering the message and building up the project with men on ROTL.
Following on from our success, the catering team at Berwyn hope to develop the project into a wider commercial enterprise in 2021. Through the publicity surrounding the project and the awards recognition there has been a great deal of commercial interest in both the story and the products that we sell. So much so that we have been exploring the possibility of either setting the project up as an external business or working with internal partners in setting up a commercial side of the business using the prison kitchen after hours. Both ideas will be explored more in coming months this year after successful implement of our additional apprenticeship scheme.
Our award winning pie products have already had interest from various companies looking to stock the pies and recently Wrexham FC have got into contact to discuss us supplying them on match days.
Berwyn is also exploring partnership working with external charitable partners in creating opportunities for people upon release in setting up their own food retail units. Market stalls, street food trucks and a range of other small food outlets are being researched, as well as how and where we can access funding to assist in the mobilisation of their own businesses. This will promote business ownership & employment for the men who leave the establishment after working with us on the project in the catering department. It’s still early days, but hopefully the project will be able to offer indivdiuals a route to owning their own food related business upon release from custody in the next 12-18 months.
Moving into 2021 we hope that, after COVID restrictions lift, we can develop the business further and create a viable business model in delivering our pie based business with both internal bakery operations and with Through the Gate assistance to men who have worked on the project.
Offering the individuals in the kitchen hope and the potential of their own business upon release is changing the way we work with the men in the kitchen at Berwyn. Granted, recent events throughout the service have resulted with us having to postpone our plans for 2020 but as soon as possible we will be pushing on to develop the project even further.
After all the hard work over the last few years by the catering team as a whole we were lucky enough to win the Public Sector Catering “Team of the Year Award 2020” this year. This is a great achievement for all staff & people in prison in receiving the accolade. It’s a team effort to deliver what we do and every member of the team is delighted in receiving the award through delivering our service to the prison.
The award is recognition for everyone who works in the catering department here at Berwyn, staff and people in prison alike and we are proud to be able to continue doing the work that we do in helping change individuals lives for the better whilst they are with us.