Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Gordon Behind Bars – Part three.

Final episode: Tuesday 17th July 2012

The final episode of Gordon Behind Bars showed the Bad Boys Bakery showed Gordon persuading Caffe Nero to stock the Bad Boys Bakery's lemon curd treacle slice for a 'make or break' showcase week and asking Justice Secretary Ken Clarke for vital financial backing. The show showed how with the help of a branding Guru, the prisoners themselves packaging the slices using their own personal stories and aimed the treat at the socially conscious consumer. I really liked how the prisoners were so involved in every stage of the business from their name, food production and then through to the branding and packaging. Plus the fact that the packaging revealed a bit about the project and the stories of the prisoners would hopefully help the consumers understand more about the backgrounds of prisoners and hopefully begin breaking down negative stereotypes. My favourite quote from the packaging was along the lines of ‘once a criminal, not always a criminal.’

The program also spent time following the journey of two of the ‘Bad Boy Bakers’ as they got jobs in two restaurants after release. One Gordon had found a job for in the Savoy Restaurant. Unfortunately despite the individual doing well to begin with the pressure of returning to his previous drug habits proved too much and he returned to using drugs and consequently lost his job. One of the biggest worries for the residents that I work with who are close to release or moving on surround the amount of support they will have when they leave. For someone who has perhaps spend decades or at least many years in secure environments where they are constantly living within strict rules and procedures to suddenly move back into society where there are pressures and freedom which can prove to be stressful and lead to relapse. This just highlighted to me how important it is that people leaving Prison and other similar settings need support once they are back into the community to reintegrate into society and live pro-social lifestyles.

Gordon also spoke to and showed Ken Clarke around the Bad Boys Bakery attempting to secure future funding for the project. Unfortunately funding was not secured although at the end of the program it was said that funding and support was trying to come from a social enterprise.

Of the twelve Bad Boy Bakers now:
2 work in restaurants.
3 are looking for work.
4 have moved Prisons.
1 continues with his struggle with drugs.
2 remain in the Bad Boys Bakery with 10 new recruits.

There are two main points which I reflected on whilst watching both this episode and the series as a whole.

The first being I wondered how the celebrity endorsement of the project being fronted by Gordon Ramsey affected the overall success of the project. I don’t think that it can be overlooked how the filming of and the work of Gordon Ramsey one of the world’s most famous chefs would have promoted an instant success and positive vibe for this project. His hands on approach throughout production to market research, having contacts in the food industry and through selling the product would have undoubtedly advanced the success of Bad Boys Bakery. I don’t feel like a normal social enterprise of project which was being run in either Prison or similar setting would necessarily achieve the same success without having celebrity endorsement. I think that it is brilliant to have celebrities such as Gordon promoting such valuable vocational rehabilitation and projects however can’t help but wonder about how Prisons and other settings could attempt similar projects on their own and gain such success.

The second reflection which I had was concerned with the sustainability of the project. With Gordon only being able to support the project for six months and having him not been able to secure funding for its continuation after this I have concerns with regards to expectations and hopes of the prisoners involved. At work it is important for me to not offer services or interventions with residents which I am not able to continue through to completion. I think that it is vital that when working with individuals in secure settings and indeed throughout Occupational Therapy and health and social care settings that as professionals we are able to see work through to completion and not just provide a service before stopping within a short amount of time of before objectives have been met. I do however understand and acknowledge that projects and interventions etc. may have to stop due to unforeseen circumstances or similar reasons.

I sincerely hope that funding and support will become available for the Bad Boys Bakery and that its success and the awareness generated by the program will spur on the creation and development of other similar projects.

In my opinion vocational rehabilitation is a key part of the rehabilitation process for individuals in Prisons and other Secure Units. 


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