Gordon Behind Bars. Channel Four, Episode Three: 10th July 2012.
It was episode three of Gordon Behind Bars and yet again another interesting watch. The week saw Gordon and the Bad Boy Bakers attempt to set up a local gourmet lunch delivery service and then pitch a sweet treat snack to several major coffee shop chains.
It was clear to see throughout that the pressures of working ‘behind bars’ and adhering and running a functioning kitchen within such strict and rigid regimes and protocols was taking its toll on the Gordon and the team.
The ideal to have the team produce a high volume lunch service to local businesses is one that would have made excellent use of the facilities within the Prison and as the program explained had potential to generate just under £1million pounds a year along with providing needed vocational rehabilitation to the offenders involved. However this idea proved to be too much off a challenge considering it would require a change in routine and would equate to adding more pressure on the already overstretched Prison Staff. It is a shame that this initiative could not come to fruition however as seen in the program Gordon and the team were able to work within their limitations and find a more manageable and cost efficient product.
Plan B; a sweet lemon treacle tart which they aim to sell in a major coffee shop chain. This new product was able to be produced in higher volumes than previous ideas and was also more cost effective whilst fitting in well with the regimes which the kitchen has to work within. I was impressed with the way that Gordon was able to move on from the initial disappointment and frustration of not being able to uphold the lunch service and come up with another, more effective idea. This is something which I often find I have to do at work. It is often that within secure services new ideas and initiatives are not able to happen due to security procedures and other contributing factors. Being able to think outside of the box and work within a challenging environment to achieve the best opportunities for the residents/offenders is a pivotal skill for OTs/other professionals working in these environments to grasp. I am really looking forward to finding out in the next episode whether the Bad Boy Bakers will have found a supplier for their sweet treat.
Whilst watching the episode it was interesting to see how the public reacted to produce being sold by offenders. The majority of the public who were featured in the show were supportive of the project and brought the lunches from Gordon which I was pleasantly surprised by. However there were some who wouldn’t as they were unsure of the cleanliness of the food and the sorts of offences which the bakers had committed had a definite effect on whether people would buy the lunches or not. It was interesting although not surprising to hear the most common worry the public showed was whether or not the prisoners were sex offenders. Public perception and stigmatisation are massive challenges which need to be overcome if offenders whether in Prisons or in other facilities are truly going to be accepted back into society. I believe that a large part of rehabilitation and reducing reoffending rates stems from whether this group of socially excluded offenders are able to mix back into society, feel accepted and be supported into living pro-social lifestyles. Having projects which bring the skills and rehabilitation of this group of society into the public eye can only be a positive step in improving
Finally it was really encouraging to hear the following from one of the ‘Bad Boy Bakers’ at the end of the program:
‘...for me I believe now when I get out of jail. I believe I can be something. What Gordon’s done is he’s put that fire in people’s bellies to make people want to do something when we get out. To think yeah we can do this. I actually can do it.’
In my opinion projects like these are testament to the fact that engaging in meaningful and productive occupations aids not only the rehabilitation of offenders but also in the development of individuals as a whole.