By Jan Garrill, Development Coordinator at Clean Slate Solutions
When Richard Brice, founder and operations manager of Clean Slate Solutions asked me to get involved with the charity that works in Teesside and North Yorkshire, I was intrigued and flattered. I knew, following my retirement from Two Ridings Community Foundation in May 2023, I wanted to do work that interested and challenged me. I was blessed with having nine years at Two Ridings Community Foundation, but it was a 24/7 job that kept my mind active day and night. I didn’t want to continue working at that pace, but I did want to be useful. Richard tapped into that and here I am now, getting involved in helping them in so many more ways than I initially envisaged. As well as supporting the incredible board of trustees, who may be small in number but make up for that in their passion for the cause and the support they give to the team, I am also helping the team of Richard, Joe, Lorna, Kay, Michelle and Jacob create the right foundations for growth. They are tireless in their passion and belief in giving people coming out of the criminal justice system a fighting chance to get their lives on track.
Being involved in a direct service delivery charity for the first time is eye opening in so many ways. The challenges of supporting ex-offenders to get the right support when the criminal justice system isn’t working, the context of working in Teesside where behind the new buildings and talk of growth, it is still one of the most deprived areas in England and around 500 people are released from prison every month and as a small charity Clean Slate Solutions has to keep going when funding is getting harder and harder to secure. This situation is getting worse for grassroots organisations like Clean Slate Solutions, and it’s made even more challenging when our cause doesn’t lend itself to community fundraising. The Centre for Social Justice involvement with Clean Slate Solutions has generously given us a platform to raise our profile and learn from others.
Now I am on the ‘other side’ and not a grant maker I can see exactly how tough it is and how the process can be so dispiriting for organisations with limited resources but huge need. Just this week, Richard and I met with Tim Cutts from the Allen Lane Foundation to talk about our funding application to them and I felt as nervous as an expectant parent. Would we evidence our capability to deliver, talk about the need in the community without doing down the people and share Richard and others unique perspectives as ex-offenders themselves without it feeling exploitative? It was an honour to be part of that conversation with Richard and Tim, and finding myself being able to describe what we do and share clients’ successful journeys into work. I am part of a great team, of staff, volunteers, and trustees, all useful and making a difference through our unique contributions to a shared vision of people coming out of prison having someone to walk alongside them and help them get a job. We find out later this week if our bid has been successful or not. With it we hope to help at least 35 more people get the right support to find a new life and a new future through decent work with a responsible business.