We’re delighted to share our 2019 Annual Report, providing an overview of the first year of Switchback’s new Strategic Plan for 2019-21: Real, Lasting Change. Below, Switchback’s Founder and CEO, Alice Dawnay, and Chair, Duncan Shrubsole, share their thoughts on raising Switchback’s ambitions at a time of significant turbulence. To read the full annual report, click here [PDF].
In 2019 Switchback entered its second decade and the first year of our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. This plan marked the biggest shift in our ambition since we began by aiming to inspire change across the justice system alongside reaching more young men than ever before.
We were thrilled to be recognised for our impact in 2019 by winning the prestigious Longford Prize, awarded annually by the Longford Trust to reward qualities of “humanity, courage, persistence and originality”. Being recognised by the judges as “a beacon of hope at a time when statutory services are in chaos” was an incredibly proud moment for the charity and a perfect launchpad for our ambitions to spread our impact even further across the justice system.
Former Switchback Trainees Junior, Said and Kevin, and Switchback Mentor Raph, celebrating Switchback’s award of the Longford Prize 2019.
Unprecedented political turbulence and the domination of Brexit meant that political space for criminal justice reform was very limited in 2019. Switchback therefore focussed its efforts in other areas, using the time to build new relationships and raise our profile across the sector, work with our Experts by Experience Board to develop our vision for change, and successfully roll out our new programme of training for sector practitioners co-produced with young prison-leavers. This work has already begun to have a real impact and gives us a fantastic foundation for growing our influence of policy and practice in 2020 and beyond.
Switchback’s overall reach remained stable in 2019 despite continued chaos in the prison system, further disruption to probation services and worsening access to vital services among young adult prison-leavers. In the face of these challenges we were also able to further raise the quality of our work supporting young men to live life differently: the proportion of Switchback Trainees who moved on successfully having met our benchmark of real, lasting change hit an eight-year high of 75% in 2019, with over half obtaining long-term employment.
The expansion of our fundraising efforts in 2019 has also put Switchback in the strongest financial position we have been in to date, in recognition of Switchback’s position now as an established charity needing to ensure stability for future years. We ended 2019 with a stable team and a new organisational structure fit for future growth in our delivery.
While these efforts in 2019 meant Switchback entered 2020 better prepared than ever to rise to new challenges, very few could have predicted such a catastrophic event as the global coronavirus pandemic. At the time of writing we have pivoted at pace to a remote delivery model, providing vital resettlement support to young prison-leavers during an extended period of lockdown and public health crisis. Our relationship building in 2019 has also meant Switchback is influencing government policy during this period more actively than ever before.
While we are sure more obstacles will be thrown in our way, the ambitions of our strategic plan stand us in good stead and, in many ways, have become yet more urgent to ensure we fulfil our purpose of enabling young men to find a way out of the justice system and build a stable, rewarding life they can be proud of.
Alice Dawnay, CEO and Founder
Duncan Shrubsole, Chair of Trustees