Creating second chances for prisoners in the Bristol area

Grant from National Grid supports the opening of The Key Café at HMP Bristol

National Grid has awarded £100,000 to The Key Unlock Potential, a start-up charity in Bristol, which is creating The Key Café, located adjacent to HMP Bristol, on the famous Gloucester Road, in the heart of the City

National Grid's recent donation is set to create opportunities for prisoners in the Bristol area and support them with a second chance in life through supporting The Key Unlock Potential charity. 

The charity’s goal is to have the Café’ doors open for business by the end of 2023, providing a unique community hub staffed by people who are in prison, and released on license, and people who have recently been released, from HMPs Bristol, Leyhill and Eastwood Park. The charity aims to support people through their transition from prison back into employment, as well as their return to their families and local community. It will also assist with prisoner integration into wider society, through supported work placements at the café, and wraparound rehabilitation services to help build self-confidence, life skills and employability.  This will include help with CVs and job applications,  careers advice, IT skills, vocational training, and opportunities to meet third parties for work placements elsewhere.

The Key Café will also provide a safe space for prison visitors, local residents and businesses, and the wider charity community to meet, and try some of the delicious food, made with real conviction in the kitchens of HMP Bristol. Local charities will be able to rent space, out-of-hours for meetings or for delivering other support services for other beneficiary groups. A virtual shop window will also allow for the sale of artwork and furniture made in prison workshops, helping to encourage purposeful work, develop a real sense of self-worth and self-belief, and provide an outlet for people’s creative talents to be nurtured, developed, and recognised.

Without the incredible support for, belief in, and commitment to our cause, from National Grid and other grant making trusts and foundations across the country, our vision would never have become a reality.

It is hoped that onboarding and training will start in the Autumn of 2023 ahead of a planned launch before Christmas. The longer-term goal is that The Key Café will be further developed to provide a dedicated charity services hub that will offer therapy and training facilities to those transitioning from prison, as well as providing a space for community activity and engagement.

National Grid has previously supported the individuals who have left prison by funding Life Cycle UK, another charity located at HMP Bristol, who provide courses in cycle mechanic qualifications.

Hinkley Connection Project Director Steven Haskayne said: 

“The Key Café will play a vital role in getting prisoners back on their feet while creating a community hub for all to enjoy. We are delighted to be able to support this incredibly valuable project and look forward to its launch later on this year”.

Suzanne Thompson, Founder and Chief Executive of The Key Unlock Potential Charity added:

"As the founder of The Key Charity, I have been delighted at the support shown by National Grid and other key funders who recognise the power and importance of proper resettlement opportunities to turn lives around in our local communities. 

"Reducing Reoffending is in the best interest of all in society as it costs in excess of £18 billion per annum to the public purse. Changing lives and stopping the 'revolving prison door cycle' brings many benefits including to the children and families of prison leavers who will be able to secure training and transitional paid work placements with The Key Charity as a pathway out of poverty and crime and into permanent work in their local communities."

Olly Swayne, Project Director at The Key Unlock Potential added:

“The Key Café is a unique, exciting, and invaluable project that sets a new benchmark for the rehabilitation of people transitioning from prison back into their communities, providing the skills, self-confidence and support that will help them avoid the risks of reoffending and build positive futures.

"Without the incredible support for, belief in, and commitment to our cause, from National Grid and other grant making trusts and foundations across the country, our vision would never have become a reality. Through The Key Café, National Grid will create a legacy for, and have a significant positive impact on, the lives of many people across the City of Bristol and the surrounding area.”     

For further information about The Key Unlock Potential please visit

You can also support The Key Café by donating at their JustGiving page using this link.