However, she was determined to turn her life around and, while in prison, signed up for an NVQ in floristry because she knew that a qualification would improve life for herself and her two daughters. 

When she was released in 2008, Gina felt confident enough to set up on her own. However, the reality of setting up a business in the outside world was harder than she expected, so she turned to The Prince’s Trust for help.

The Prince’s Trust worked with Gina through the Enterprise programme and helped her to write a business plan, obtain a start-up loan and find a workspace for Blooming Scent. Based at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Tottenham, she began providing flowers for people and events.

Gina then decided to expand into catering and snap up a small cafe that became available at the Centre, following advice from Dragon’s Den star and Prince’s Trust Ambassador James Caan.

As her business grew, so did her need for staff and she knew exactly the type of person she wanted to employ.

It’s difficult to turn your life around in prison, you feel written off and good for nothing – but there are people out there who believe in you and will give you a second chance. It’s a great feeling to be able to open the door for them, just like The Prince’s Trust did for me.

Gina now has a dozen full-time employees on her payroll and, when she’s not managing her businesses, she’s giving something back to The Prince’s Trust. In addition to running her business, she has also worked for the charity as a Job Ambassador – supporting other young people in her local area to improve their employability skills and access local jobs.

“One of the things that will always stand out to me when I was a Job Ambassador is going back into prisons to talk to the offenders about what they can achieve when they leave.”

Gina’s continuing to create opportunities for young people. She’s already opened a second cafe at the 639 Centre in Tottenham, where she met with HRH The Prince of Wales on Wednesday 5 February 2014 as part of a visit about regeneration in the area. As if that wasn’t enough, she caters for weddings and funerals and provides 130 meals daily for a local primary school. In 2011 she won a Pride of Britain Award for Prince’s Trust Young Achiever of the Year.

Gina continues to work with social entrepreneurs on their release from prison, in conjunction with the Evening Standard, HMP Holloway and HMP Isis.

To think how much my life has changed in the last few years is amazing. I was a convicted prisoner looking at life on benefits when I was inside, but now, thanks to The Prince's Trust, I am a successful businesswoman with my whole future ahead of me.