Following the success of our previously published “Introducing…” articles, we thought we would welcome you to another member of our team.
Jules is a long-standing representative of the Harbour & Jones family. We decided we would feature Jules this month due to her fantastic work with The Clink Charity.
How many years have you been at Harbour & Jones?
Over 12 years now and I have worked in numerous roles and guises, playing an important part in the direction and growth of the company.
How long have you been ambassador for The Clink?
With my experience and background in event catering I was asked by The Clink Charity board to become an ambassador for Clink Events to support Al Crisci, MBE, just after he set up this side of the charity when it launched in 2015.
It is such a fantastic platform that provides opportunities to support the development and training of both ex-offenders from The Clink and young people from Centrepoint. And for me, it adds another dimension by giving full-time hospitality professionals an opportunity to work alongside and provide on-the-job training for these young people to deliver events.
One of my most memorable events was at the Italian Embassy where we worked alongside chefs from Locanda Locatelli. Ironically, we really did serve Ferrero Rocher!
How did you first get involved at The Clink Charity?
Back in 2010-11, our then PR company started working with The Clink Charity and invited both Patrick Harbour, co-founder of Harbour & Jones, and myself to lunch at what was then the only working Clink Restaurant, at HMP High Down in Sutton. From that moment on, I felt compelled to become involved.
I spent one or two days a month delivering hands-on training to help the prisoners gain NVQ level 2/3, helping to run the pass at the Clink Restaurant or at fundraising events held to raise awareness and much needed funds.
What is your favourite part of being an ambassador for The Clink?
Clichéd as it may sound, being able to give something back. Literally.
My background is not catering – in fact it is banking, finance and taxation – so for me, it is a privilege be able to share my life experience and expertise, as a real life example that you can change track in life, and do well.
As a mentor, it is so rewarding to see people grow as individuals, developing greater confidence, as well as practical and social skills; a blessing and reward for all.
I am proud I still work for Clink Events alongside graduates I helped train back at HMP High Down who are poster children for what the charity can achieve.
What has been your most memorable event?
I guess there have been two stand-out events this year.
The first was at the Italian Embassy where we worked alongside chefs from Locanda Locatelli. It was one of the first events for Lloyd, a recent graduate, and he did extremely well. Ironically, we really did serve Ferrero Rocher!
The second event was at the Museum of London. The driver who dropped off all our equipment and food had forgotten to leave one of the cages. This led to Al and I running around shops to pick up missing ingredients and popping into a nearby H+J site to borrow a few bits too. Back in time for the reception, the guests were none the wiser and the event went really well. As they say ‘the show must go on!’
What improvements would you like to see to support The Clink?
Primarily, more funding from the government to support similar rehabilitation programmes within the prison system, alongside more resources to maintain the essential support and mentoring required when graduates leave prison. Ex-offenders face not only the challenge of getting to grips with a (new) job, but a bigger challenge in adjusting to living outside prison. Also, given the dearth of chefs – at all levels – a call to action for our industry to get more involved in nurturing these individuals that have actively chosen hospitality as their path to a better future.
And finally, Jules a little bit about you. If you could invite three people to dinner, from either the past or the present, who would they be and why?
Gosh, too many to choose from really. I am going to say the late AA Gill for his wit, charm and jolly good taste; David Attenborough because he is an intelligent and thoughtful man who has travelled the world and shone a spotlight on some extraordinary things over the years. And finally, to keep the party going, Keith Floyd, the original celebrity chef who would be the perfect cook and host, always with a bottle at-the-ready.