Hospitality school offers fresh start for former inmates

A Cape Town-based organisation helps equip former women offenders with the skills to earn an honest living.

The Beyond Bars learning programme aims to rehabilitate the women and train them to work in the hospitality industry.

The women have served time in Pollsmoor Prison, completed their sentences and been released back into society, but many struggle to find work with criminal records.

Stephanie Simbo and Marine Durand are the co-founders of the initiative and share the importance of their work.

They explain that the recidivism rate (when a convicted criminal reoffends) is very high in South Africa, partly due to the social stigma former inmates face once they are released.

Beyond Bars Akademia offers support and life skills, in addition to technical skills for a range of hospitality jobs.

We are a hospitality school. We teach everything from housekeeping to becoming a sommelier, according to their talents.

Marine Durand, co-founder of Beyond Bars Akademia

We are establishing partnerships all around town with various hotel chains, restaurants and bars so that they can hire our students afterwards.

Stephanie Simbo, co-founder of Beyond Bars Akademia

We teach them life skills to help them heal themselves inside as well. Self-confidence, anger management, nutrition - everything is being taught in our school.

Marine Durand, co-founder of Beyond Bars Akademia

My brother went to jail when I was 10. I saw firsthand what a criminal record can do to your private life.

Stephanie Simbo, co-founder of Beyond Bars Akademia

I went to law school and I'm really into social justice.

Stephanie Simbo, co-founder of Beyond Bars Akademia

Once you are in prison and you want to be rehabilitated, there are not a lot of initiatives.

Marine Durand, co-founder of Beyond Bars Akademia

Take a listen to learn more about the inspiring project:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Hospitality school offers fresh start for former inmates


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