Custard Insight: Working behind bars

By Georgia Ward

For not-for-profit organisations like The Clink Charity, fundraising is an essential ingredient to success. With the aim of having 20 prisoner training schemes in operation across the UK by 2020, The Clink relies on donations from private individuals and philanthropic businesses to continue delivering significant results.

We sat down with The Clink’s director of fundraising and marketing Vanessa Frances to find out more about her role and what daily life is really like working in a prison.

What enticed you to work with The Clink Charity?
I was intrigued about the concept of a having a customer restaurant inside a prison and then as soon as I learned about the work the charity did to help people start over I was hooked…

What does a typical day in your role entail?
A typical day involves making sure I am working to deadline on bid applications and marketing of events. There are a lot of critical paths in my job. It is a matter of juggling what is most time sensitive as having Fundraising and Marketing to do you have to be disciplined with your time.

What has been your main objectives since starting you role at The Clink?
My main objective is to ensure that the necessary funds are raised to keep our charity growing to help more vulnerable adults.

With over 25 years of marketing and sales experience under your belt, how have your past roles prepared you for your new role?
I think working in sales positions has given me a very commercial head. I always weigh up what I am doing and committing budget to what is going to bring in revenue.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Knowing that we change lives. Hearing the trainees and the Clink Graduates so buoyant really gives me a lift and the other day I heard one of our graduates Mums’ had called our support worker and said “Thank you so much for your help as you have given me my son back”.

Where do you see the charity in the next five years?
I see us having expanded into more prisons nationwide and taking our concept to the next stage of working in prison kitchens too.

What are the main challenges that you face in your position?
The main challenges are to make sure you don’t miss anything and with just me in the Fundraising and Marketing team in-house at present the challenge is to get it all done!

For more information about The Clink Charity or to book a table at one of their award-winning restaurants, visit