Somerset

Ex-offenders sell burgers out of former prison van

is a converted former Image copyright Key4Life
Image caption The Food Cell is a converted former prison van

Reformed young offenders are selling burgers out of a former prison van as part of a rehabilitation project.

The Food Cell is run by the Key4Life charity and is aimed at those in prison or at risk of going to prison.

Every burger sold from the van in Somerset is wrapped in illustrated paper, detailing how each of the men have turned their lives around.

Spokesman Michael Winter said the project gave young offenders skills and supported their return to work.

Former young offenders Liam Meredith, 26, Jamie Paterson, 26, and Aaron Rogers, 23 were formally classed as 'at risk of offending' when they joined the programme.

Mr Meredith now works on the conservation team at an organic farm, Mr Rogers is a personal trainer and chef, and Mr Paterson works as a groom.

Image copyright Liqam Meredith
Image caption Liam Meredith said the project had brought "clarity and purpose" to his life

Mr Meredith, who spent a total of five-and-a-half years in prison, said the project had "brought a lot more clarity and purpose" to his life.

'Break that cycle'

"It's given me structure and a routine, and a passion to want to do well," he added.

Mr Winter said the project "gives young offenders valuable business skills and experience to help them get future work, and in doing so helps to reduce the reoffending rate."

"So many guys come out of prison feeling they've nothing to offer the job market, so they return to crime to get money and end up back inside," he added.

"This is a chance to break that cycle."

Launched in September 2019 by former Chelsea FC footballer Tore Andre Flo, the van was set to travel to a number of festivals and events over the summer that have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is now selling burgers made from locally-sourced minced beef at Lovington's Ice Cream car park every Thursday throughout the summer.

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