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“A beacon of hope at a time of chaos” – Switchback wins the Longford Prize 2019

By December 5, 2019 No Comments

Switchback is very proud to have won the Longford Prize 2019, awarded at a ceremony in Central London attended by over 600 guests from across the criminal justice sector.

The Longford Prize is awarded annually by the Longford Trust, recognising qualities of “humanity, courage, persistence and originality”. The judging panel includes representatives of the Prison Reform Trust, New Bridge, former prison governor John Podmore, ex-Chief Inspector of Prisons, Lord Ramsbotham, and journalist Mary Riddell.

Switchback Trainee Kevin with Switchback Mentors Blaise and Raphael.
Fashion student and former Switchback Trainee Elton, working for Liberty Kitchen at the event and showing off the Longford Prize Statuette!

Switchback was presented with the prestigious award by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow. Many Switchback Trainees past and present were also in attendance at the event, as guests and working as chefs, bar staff and waiters for the social enterprise Liberty Kitchen.

On awarding Switchback with the prize, the judges said:

“The transition from prison back into the community is so often when the system fails. For the past 11 years, Switchback has been engaging with 18-30-year-olds in the London area, many from BAME communities, to support them through the gate. It does this so effectively that the individuals it helps each year are five times less likely to reoffend than other newly-released prisoners. It enables lasting change through intensive one-to-one support, real-work training and a range of strategic partnerships. It is, the judges believe, a focussed, inspiring resettlement charity that is a beacon of hope at a time when centrally-funded alternatives are in chaos.”

Receiving the award, Switchback’s Founder and CEO Alice Dawnay said:

“Stability doesn’t sound very innovative, but it’s fundamental to how Switchback operates. We’ve been solidly doing the same thing for 11 years. Stability is what the young men returning to London from prison tell us they want and what we provide against the odds. It is a rare thing and we are delighted that the Longford Trust recognise its value.

Release needs to be a moment of opportunity, of hope and potential. We need to have the same courage, resilience and stamina in trying to change the system that we see in the prison-leavers who show those qualities in changing their own futures.”

Switchback would like to thank the Longford Trust and the judging panel for their recognition of Switchback’s work to give prison-leavers a real chance to change. And it is with sincere thanks to our close network of partners, supporters and loyal donors that we are able to do anything at all.

The Longford Prize Statuette is made by a former Longford Scholar, Ben Levings, who graduated in stonemasonry, from stainless steel, glass and yew. It shows the lock indicator on UK prison doors. It represents the door unlocked, transparency and reflection, all qualities that are celebrated by the Longford Prize.
Switchback Trainee Said working for Liberty Kitchen during the event.
Chef and former Switchback Trainee Michael.
(R to L) Bar worker and former Switchback Trainee Junior, Switchback Trainees Said and Kevin, and Switchback Mentor Raphael.
“Release needs to be a moment of opportunity, of hope and potential”. Switchback’s Founder and CEO Alice Dawnay accepting the Longford Prize 2019 on behalf of Switchback, on stage with Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow and former Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair.
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