Middlesbrough restaurant 'taken over' by prisoners
Prisoners have taken over a restaurant to serve Sunday lunch to diners in a scheme to prepare them for release.
Seven inmates from HMP Kirklevington Grange on Teesside are running the Fork in the Road in Middlesbrough, with the help of managers.
The not-for-profit venue was opened by philanthropist Andy Preston to help former inmates and unemployed people.
Prison governor Angie Petit said the experience would help inmates get ready for life outside prison.
HMP Kirklevington Grange is a resettlement prison for Category D male adult offenders nearing the end of their sentences and it aims to prepare them ahead of release.
Mr Preston said some prisons already run restaurants on their premises that are open to the public, but he believed this was the first time a regular venue had been taken over and run by inmates, including in the kitchen and front of house.
He said the restaurant had taken on prisoners on a day release basis in the past and had discussed with Ms Petit the option of allowing more to run the entire venue.
According to TripAdvisor the restaurant, backed by the CEOSleepout charity, is rated as one of the top three in Middlesbrough.
Mr Preston added: "The prisoners will be adhering to our high standards of quality and service and they know this can be the start of a brighter future for them.
"The prison system is full of people who want to go straight, but it's easier said than done.
"The guys who work with us will have skills they can show to a potential employer."
Ms Petit said: "Nothing beats the challenge and responsibility of working in a real-world business when it comes to preparing them for life outside of prison."