Wycombe Abbey Senior receives national award

A Wycombe Abbey Senior has been recognised with a national honour after founding a charity offering former prisoners the chance of work.

Jane Gould-Smith (class of 1974) has been presented with a British Citizen Award (BCA) for her services to the employment charity, Clean Sheet, she launched in 2010.

Since then, Jane has worked tirelessly with ex-offenders after their release – encouraging them to find suitable work, training or volunteering with over 105 registered Clean Sheet employers, including the likes of Boots, M&S and Virgin Active.

Speaking about her nomination, Jane said, “This is a very proud moment but the work is only just beginning.

“We have been going for seven years but it’s truly snowballed this year. There’s a lot to do to seize the momentum and ensure even more ex-prisoners are able to take advantage of the service. Some of their convictions date back decades but many have still not managed to wipe the stain clean.”

Jane – who currently works with 19 prisons across the UK – initially set up Clean Sheet after feeling that there was a lack of trust between employers and people with convictions.

She explained, “A former prisoner who finds work is between 30 and 55 per cent less likely to reoffend. That average goes above 80 per cent if they find a mentor. The message is clear – work plus support equals a better chance.”

Jane is one of 25 winners to be honoured at a ceremony on January 25 at the Palace of Westminster. Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.

The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in 2015 to recognise ‘everyday’ individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society.

Headmistress, Rhiannon J Wilkinson, said, “Supporting the community, whether globally or closer to home, has always been an intrinsic part of Wycombe Abbey life. It is wonderful to have a Senior putting this into action in her professional life and it is excellent for the girls to have such an inspiring role model.”