High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Jane Cranston took the opportunity to showcase the work of the voluntary sector and criminal justice system at her event last night at St Helen and St Katharine School in Abingdon.
OCF’s Chief Executive Jayne Woodley, OCF Chair John Taylor, and Reciprocate Chair Richard Venables were among the guests at Jane’s drinks reception at the school. During her speech, Jane talked of how impressed she has been during her Shrieval year to meet the many hardworking community leaders and professionals who make sure civil society in the county functions.
Jane also praised those who work in the criminal justice system for their compassionate approach. She said: “Over the past few months I have visited the prisons in the Thames Valley: Woodhill, Oakhill, Huntercombe, Grendon, Springhill, Bullingdon and the NHS Hospital at Broadmoor. These visits have been fascinating, eye opening and at times deeply shocking.
“In visiting the prisons it rapidly became clear that the big majority of inmates are society’s vulnerable, not society’s dangerous, and that there is a very great deal more that we as a society need to do to turn this round. A recognition that we all need to stop passing by on the other side and be prepared to give ex-offenders a job; to be more patient with those less fortunate than ourselves. How can you turn your life around if no-one will give you a chance?
“Prison officers are dealing daily with the most vulnerable in our society. People with learning difficulties, mental health issues, drug-related problems, people from homes where low (or high) level abuse is the norm, people who have just made a stupid mistake, or people who have fallen on hard times and done something illegal to earn some money. There but for the grace of God…”
This theme of justice and opportunity runs through Jane’s fundraising during her year as High Sheriff, which is being supported by OCF. At the event Jane launched her online charity auction with Mallams, for which a range of prestigious lots have been generously donated. Takers can bid for anything from a private box to a long weekend to a piece of art, with all proceeds of sales going to charities Aspire, SAFE! and Youth Challenge Oxfordshire. For those who would rather make a simple donation to Jane’s appeal, she also has a JustGiving page.