Member Stories
Member Story - James

What was life like for you growing up?

It was pretty good. My parents are great and stayed together, and I’ve got three older sisters who I get on with. School was good too, I got all my A Levels and GCSEs and was good at sports.


What was happening in your life before you got convicted?

I was in a really bad relationship which we rushed into. We got married when I was 23 when my partner fell pregnant and we ended up having two kids together. The relationship just fell apart really. We weren’t ready.


What was prison like for you?

The main thing I struggled with was being so cooped up, it felt like I was being caged in like an animal. I’m from a rural area surrounded by mountains, I’d spent my life outdoors.
Having said that, I did make a few friends. There was a 70 year old man who used to come and have coffee with me every morning. I also had a good relationship with the officers and ended up getting invited to play in their football matches.

Whilst in prison I did a carpentry course, and I ended up becoming the teaching assistant for the class. I made a lot of the lesson plans and helped the teacher out a lot, it was just good to have something to pass the time. I worked hard and I was good at it.


What was it like when you were released?

In short – weird. I was released in March 2020 just before COVID-19, and was put up in a hostel where we could only leave for an hour of exercise a day. I was there for 3 months. It was like I was still in prison! Having said that, I was just grateful to be out.
The first person who rang my mobile in the hostel (aside from my parents and my partner), was Tim at Clean Sheet. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to hear a happy person on the end of the phone, someone who just wanted to support me. Prison is full of doom, there’s no hope, so this was really significant for me.


How have Clean Sheet helped you?

I signed up for Clean Sheet before I left jail. Leaving prison and hearing from you so quickly was really encouraging, and seeing hundreds of national companies on your Employers Directory who would look beyond my conviction was amazing. It just gave me so much hope. There aren’t many options out there until people stumble on companies like yourselves and are offered help.


What’s life looking like for you now?

I’m in full time employment and have a partner and a little sausage dog. I’m happy. I go out kayaking with my dog everyday. Life is good.


What are your plans for the future?

Just to keep it up really! To be happy, to do what I enjoy, and to aim high!


“Clean Sheet could save somebody’s life with that first phone call – it might be the only happiness somebody’s heard for a long time. For some, getting out of prison is more like the end of their life than the beginning. You gave me hope. I’m so grateful. Thank you.”

(Name changed to protect identity)

Telephone: 0300 123 3045

Registered office: PO Box 6364, Coventry CV6 9LL
Clean Sheet is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation; registered Charity 1154304
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