A charity that aims to cut reoffending rates by teaching prisoners to cook fine food for visitors been shortlisted for a top award.

The Clink Restaurant, based at HMP Highdown, lets diners go to the prison to eat food prepared by serving prisoners. Prisoners involved in the scheme have reoffending rates significantly below the national average.

In recognition of the innovative scheme's success, the Guardian newspaper has named it among the 30 finalists in its Charity Awards competition - ahead of almost 1,300 entrants.

Chris Moore, chief executive of the Clink Charity, said: "Winning the Guardian Charity Awards 2013 would have a huge impact on our work in UK prisons.

"Whilst we have already achieved extraordinary results since The Clink Charity was founded in 2010, including a Clink graduate reoffending rate of just 12.5%, compared to the national average of 47%, the award would highlight our work to prospective employers within the catering and hospitality industry, and philanthropists willing to support the valued work to reduce reoffending rates across the UK.

"We’re delighted to have been shortlisted, as this has provided recognition for all the hard work our trustees and employees have put in over the last four years and winning the award would reaffirm that they are involved with a charity that has huge support to continue the hard work in reducing reoffending."

The Clink has a five-step programme for prisoners who are in the final 18 months of a sentence. The prisoners are taught GVQ qualifications in food preparation, horticulture, industrial cleaning , food service and recycling and workers from the Clink mentor them for six months after release.

Highdown was the Clink's first restaurant. A second restaurant in Wales followed and the charity this week announced plans for a third in Brixton.

To book a table at the Clink in Highdown, visit www.theclinkcharity.com.