Page 15 - MarketTimesDecember2019
P. 15

MARKET TIMES • DECEMBER 2019 15 The market street food enterprise
  saying balls to prison
 Danny Green, ex-Pentonville inmate who now helps with street food business Liberty Kitchen
A STREET food business standing markets in London is helping prisoners turn their backs on a life of crime.
Liberty Kitchen is a social enterprise initiative started two years ago by Janet Boston to help prisoners learn new skills and build the foundations for a life beyond prison walls.
Janet had worked as an independent monitor at Holloway Prison for 15 years. The voluntary role involved her visiting the prison on evenings and weekends to check on conditions.
Although a filmmaker by profession, Janet had travelled the world and loved street food which she felt had the power to bring people together.
“I had always had a hankering to run my own street food business, then I had the idea that it would be a really good business to get women prisoners at Holloway involved in as a way of giving them new skills and opportunities for life outside prison,” she said.
She got the funding in place and a kitchen set up, then the Government decided to close the prison.
“That was four years ago, but I felt the idea was too good to let go,” said Janet.
She got agreement and funding to set up Liberty Kitchen at Pentonville, a Category B prison which holds about 1,300 men, and a flourishing street food business was born.
‘The scheme helps
prisoners who are finding
their feet after their
release. I would definitely
like to start my own
street food business one
day with the help of
Janet as a mentor’
Danny Green, ex-Pentonville inmate
The scheme involves Janet working with about seven or eight prisoners at any one time producing mouthwatering meat and vegetarian balls in the prison’s staff canteen.
The prisoners are encouraged to come up with their own recipes for different balls and Janet initially got funding to employ a professional chef to get the project off the ground.
“We have worked with 47 prisoners so far, some of whom already had some cooking skills or even chefs’ training, while others
Janet Boston runs Liberty Kitchen
didn’t know how to boil an egg,” she said. One drawback is that the prisoners are not allowed out of prison on day release any more, which means that Janet has to carry large boxes of ingredients through eight gates into the canteen and carry them out with the finished dishes to sell on
She now relies on released prisoners
whom she has worked with to assist her on the market stalls. But she is hoping the prison will agree to day release for prisoners who make the meat balls so that they can play a full part in the project.
Liberty Kitchen’s first market was at Primrose Hill and they now have regular pitches at other London markets including Leather Lane in Clerkenwell, where the pictures on this page were taken.
Danny Green who helped make the meat balls in prison now helps Janet on the market stall following his release.
He said: “This has been really good for me. It has given me the motivation and the hope that I can make a life for myself outside prison. I ended up doing a business course in prison to learn how to run a business.
“And the scheme helps prisoners who are finding their feet after their release. I would definitely like to start my own street food business one day with the help of Janet as a mentor.”

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