Claudia Vince, about 3 years ago
'Their totally unconditional, non-judgmental support and patience is truly heartening.'
In 2010, while leading volunteer-led job clubs in the community, Jane Gould-Smith was inspired to create Clean Sheet. She knew that ex-offenders face bigger obstacles than most when attempting to secure employment, so she started regular employability sessions, called Ways to Work, in her local prison. These sessions aimed to build individuals' confidence, and encourage practical aspiration to look towards the process of job-seeking after prison.
Its success led to further Ways to Work employability sessions in prisons, which recognise the challenges this community faces when applying for jobs and helping them to understand how best to move on from this.'I thought my life was over; Clean Sheet gave me hope.'
The organisation has grown over its seven-year history, while retaining its core vision – real, sustainable jobs for ex-offenders. Clean Sheet now offers support to prisoners and former prisoners across the UK. The individual service-users become Clean Sheet members, offering access to the Clean Sheet Employers Directory who are committed to supporting the Clean Sheet vision.
To become a member, individuals complete a membership module which is a simple work-readiness test. This helps Clean Sheet staff understand how best to support their transition into employment. Clean Sheet also demonstrates to employers that their members are ready and motivated for work, and are well suited to the available positions.
Clean Sheet Members are given a membership card, with their unique number and individual login for the Clean Sheet Directory, plus the all-important helpline number.
'Clean Sheet were different. They treated me like a normal person.'
A huge aspect of Clean Sheet's work revolves around helping their members realise their potential and recognise that they have the ability to succeed. Many people leave prison feeling demoralised and isolated, so having a supportive network around them can inspire feelings of confidence, hope and determination. Founder Jane Gould-Smith firmly believes that people should not be defined by what they have done in the past, but rather who they are as individuals. Clean Sheet is dedicated to helping people change their mindset and understand that there is hope for their futures. The relationships between members and staff are built on trust, honestly and openness and Jane emphasises that however big Clean Sheet becomes, it will always be about providing the individual and specific support their Members need to take hold of the ladder to a new life.
Clean Sheet Founder: Jane Gould-Smith
Currently, there are 105 employers represented on the Clean Sheet Directory. They represents over 16,700 business sites across the UK; branches sites and offices, all of whom are committed to actively considering Clean Sheet Members for vacancies in their organisations.
'I can't thank you enough for treating me like a human - I know it is part of your job, but it means so much that I'm crying at work. Thank you!'
The organisation has pledged to reach the goal of 500 employers on the directory by the end of 2018. Having recently expanded the team and recruited an Employment Development Manager, so this aspiration is now an attainable goal.
In the last month alone, Clean Sheet has received over 100 referrals for new members.
The coming years promise to be exciting for Clean Sheet, as they continue to expand and spread their message in the public arena, whilst encouraging more individuals to utilise support the available to them and turn their lives around. Clean Sheet work with prisons, agencies and other partners, as part of their commitment to support more ex-offenders than ever before.
Support Clean Sheet here.