Cafe Britannia expands into city’s historic Guildhall - providing experience to prisoners and ex offenders
- Credit: Steve Adams
Serving prisoners and ex-offenders will soon be serving breakfast, lunch and tea at a city-centre cafe thanks to an expanding social enterprise.
The team behind Cafe Britannia at Norwich Prison, which is run with help from low-risk prisoners, have taken on the Guildhall in the city centre - saving 17 jobs.
As part of the expansion Caley's Cafe will be re-branded as Cafe Britannia in the City, and female prisoners and ex-offenders will soon join current staff in serving up snacks to hungry shoppers.
The project is being led by Cafe Britannia chief executive Davina Tanner, who said she had big plans for the grade II-listed building.
'The goal would be to have the cafe at the Guildhall looking better than it does now by the middle of March,' said Ms Tanner, former general manager of intu Chapelfield.
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Since the lease was signed in November, serving prisoners have already begun overnight redecorating work, and Ms Tanner said she planned to eventually open up much of the building to visitors.
It follows on from the success of the cafe at Norwich Prison, which provides work experience and jobs to 16 serving male prisoners, and several others who have stayed on following release. Ms Tanner is also in a tender process for the cafe at Eaton Park which closed its doors late last year.
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Prison officer Dave Damerell, who has been working at the prison for 24 years, said: 'In some of the guys we see a real difference. Some people who wouldn't even look you in the eye are completely different now, thanks to interaction with the public.
'Prisoners come through and go on to get jobs – the majority leave with something to go on to.'
And Mr Damerell said the cafe was always busy. 'Normally people are queuing for tables,' he added.
Ms Tanner said turnover reached £720,000 last year, and predicted a £825,000 figure this year.
Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters said: 'They will be continuing their valuable work in the heart of the city in a flagship heritage building, allowing those who work there to gain new skills and become equipped for future employment.'
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