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8th May 2015

Offenders serve up a tasty treat

Brooks Abela, chef, demonstrates his skills on the run-up to HOPE's charity event.

Brooks Abela, chef, demonstrates his skills at HOPE’s pop-up restaurant.

A TOTAL of 40 guests enjoyed a three course meal courtesy of a probation-led initiative that supports offenders with mental health issues.

The Help Outside the Prison Environment (HOPE) project ran a pop-up restaurant at the Greater Manchester Fire Service training headquarters in central Manchester.

HOPE, which is run by the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company and the Greater Manchester West NHS Trust, supports offenders, or people at risk of offending, who have mental health conditions.

Offenders were trained over several weeks by chef Brook Abela to deliver a silver service complete with delicious dishes. The cash raised – £345 – was donated to The Mustard Tree, a charity for the homeless in Manchester.

Brooks, who has previously been on probation and himself benefited from HOPE’s services, said: “The participants did great in the kitchen and we prepared some really mouth watering dishes.”

The project aimed to teach offenders more about the art of healthy cooking.

Maryane Mohamed, HOPE’s life skills coach, said: “The event went really well and I’m delighted that we raised cash for such a deserving charity.

“We were so impressed by how thoroughly HOPE’s service users trained for the event that we presented them with awards in recognition of their achievements.

“I think the guests were genuinely surprised by the incredible quality of the dishes and the service they received.”

The menu included starters such as chicken liver parfait; mains such as sea bass on a bed of ratatouille with saffron potatoes and desserts such as pears or banoffee pie.

HOPE, in Fairfield Street, Manchester, runs activities every week day and aims to break the social isolation often experienced by offenders with mental health conditions. It also runs events that help improve participants’ health and wellbeing.