This year we turned 10 years old… so last month we celebrated this milestone in style by throwing a big party!
We had people from prisons and probation, employer partners and champions, donors, supporters, influencers, friends and lots of current and former Switchback Trainees, all of who came together to celebrate the last 10 years and continue to be part of our journey for the next 10 years and beyond!
The evening was a huge success with guests being treated to a scrumptious array of canapes from our longstanding partners Café from Crisis. The entire menu was designed, prepared and served by Switchback Trainees and was accompanied by live music from the very cool Finding Rhythms, a charity who supports prisoners and ex-prisoners.
We gave away some fantastic prizes donated by partners River Cottage, Dehesa, Oklava, Rochelle Canteen, Kastner and Ovens, London Girls Surf Club and Cell Workout amongst others in our dazzling raffle which raised a whopping £759 for Switchback on the night as well as securing us a mountain of pledges of support for the future.
We also unveiled a series of 10 huge celebratory Trainee portraits printed for us by Allen & Overy and premiered our new film in which Switchback Trainees Raihan and Guellor talk about their journeys and how Switchback helped them get to where they are today.
During the evening, we heard some inspiring speeches from our own CEO, Alice Dawnay and Security Procedures Lead for HMPPS, Wayne Hodges who has been involved with Switchback from the very start.
Alice talked about how she and Co-founder Slaney first started Switchback back in 2008, over a fish pie round her kitchen table. “We couldn’t believe how bleak the prospects were for young men coming out of prison. It didn’t have to be the end of the road. Between us, we could see a way of helping these guys build the life they wanted after release”.
Wayne shared a poignant memory that had stuck with him from the very first Switchback celebration in 2008 when a Trainee told him, “I’m now different to everyone else where I live because I’ve got a purpose. I get up in the morning and I go to work. I’ve got people that care for me when I get there and I want to go the following day, so it gets me out of bed again. I believe in what I’m doing now, I believe I’ve got a future”.
Now 10 years on, the context in which Switchback is operating is very different from 2008. Prisons are more violent, less resourced institutions. Average sentence lengths for serious offences are more than double what they were 10 years ago and the reoffending rate nationally remains stubbornly high at nearly half reconvicted within a year of release.
Thankfully not so for Switchback Trainees!
92% of our Trainees don’t go back inside and we’re incredibly proud that nearly two thirds of the guys we work with move on into the world having made a profound, positive change in their life.
We think the evening was summed up perfectly in the words of one of our Trainees:
“Switchback got me this far and without you guys I wouldn’t be where I am”