About Switchback

We build transformative relationships

Our Ambition

Switchback’s ambition is that everyone has the opportunity to live a stable and rewarding life as an active member of society.


Our Purpose

Switchback’s purpose is to enable young men to find a way out of the justice system and build a stable, rewarding life they can be proud of.

“When I first came into Switchback I’d feel so uncomfortable I could hardly speak. Switchback totally changed how I thought about myself.

I’ve learned that it’s not about taking the fast route, taking the long route is more beneficial in the end. I’ve done so much more than I thought I could.”

Elton, Fashion Student and former Switchback Trainee

Our Values

We keep our Trainees at the heart of everything we do

Switchback’s five values cut through everything we do, from our work with Trainees to our fundraising and partnerships.


Keeping Trainees at the heart of everything we do

We build trust, confidence, independence and stability in all areas of a Trainee’s life. In all decisions we use the lens: “does this help us improve the prospects of young prison-leavers?”

2. Authentic

Rolling with the ups and downs of real life

We prize integrity and honesty. We don’t sell a dream: we are realistic about what it means to genuinely start over and the huge courage needed to change. We recognise that change is not linear and we provide a space to learn from mistakes.

3. Committed

Taking the long way around

Our commitment to Trainees is consistent and continuous, lasting for as long as it takes. We reject quick fixes, shortcuts and tick boxes. We do what we say we are going to do and coach our Trainees to do the same.

4. Ambitious

Having high expectations

We assume strengths, resources and abilities in Trainees. We don’t do things for people: we challenge and encourage our Trainees to take control. We are distinctive in our high expectations of Trainees, our own conduct, the quality of our partnerships and the impact of our work.

5. Pioneering

Pushing into our stretch zone

We challenge Trainees to move outside their comfort zone and we encourage adventure to learn and grow. As a charity we strive to do the same, constantly seeking to reflect and improve. We pioneer an alternative approach and share our evidence with others.


Why we do it

Almost half of people released from prison are reconvicted within a year. Many are back inside within a few weeks.

The obstacles faced by people leaving prison and trying to live life differently are higher than ever. Switchback exists to shift the narrative.

The problem

The reoffending rate has barely reduced in decades: 48% of prison-leavers are reconverted with a year and fewer than a fifth move into work.

Young adults and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, who make up the majority of Switchback Trainees, are also significantly over-represented in the prison system.


of prison-leavers reoffend within a year of release


of prison-leavers are not in work a year after release


estimated annual cost of reoffending


annual cost per prison place

Barriers to success

Homelessness, mental health problems and low skills are just some of the barriers faced by people leaving prison.

Many have grown up in poverty or in care, have never worked legitimately and have experienced violence and trauma. Among recent Switchback Trainees:


have drug or alcohol issues


leave prison homeless


have never worked before


have no qualifications

These challenges are compounded by a prison and probation system in chaos and the fragmentation of housing, health and welfare support. This means prison-leavers are not getting the consistent, personalised support needed to make a profound change in their lives.

How we shift the narrative

Switchback’s model was established in 2008 on the premise that it is often not the lack of opportunity, but rather a lack of confidence, knowledge and continuity of support that prevents prison-leavers from overcoming challenges and realising their options.

When working with Trainees, Switchback models stability amid the chaos. Through a consistent, long-term relationship and real work training, we enable Switchback Trainees to make a profound change in how they think about and participate in society.

See What We Do to find out more about our model.

People only do what they know, and that depends where you grow up. To me, I knew how sell drugs. In my community it’s just normal to do crime.

Switchback taught me and pushed me so much. I’ve learned to forget about crime. I’ve been shown a different route."

Ahmed, Switchback Trainee

Our Team

Switch Mentor Team Photo
The Switchback Mentor Team, left to right: Monique, Sarah, Celine, Maddy and Raphael.

Alice Dawnay

Founder & CEO

Monique Williams

Head of Delivery

Hayley Topley

Head of Fundraising

Sam Boyd

Head of Policy, Impact & Communications

Bernice Cole

Head of Finance and Operations

Will Akrigg

Partnerships Manager

Lauren Trew

Data and Impact Officer

Taran Kaler

Fundraising Officer

Our Trustees

Simon Eyers has been a long term Switchback supporter. He studied Electrical Engineering at Edinburgh in the 1980s, going on to become a banker, eventually ending up in private equity as a partner at Warburg Pincus where he is now a Senior Advisor. He currently chairs Evrythng, an enterprise software platform.

Olivia Gillan-Bower has spent most of her career in strategy consulting, notably at PwC where she was a Partner specialising in the retail/leisure/consumer sectors. She is now focused on the not for profit sector, acting as a Trustee for Little Village and the Mark Anthony Trust as well as volunteering as an Interview Coach at Smart Works. She also serves as a Magistrate in London.

Edward Mackaness was appointed to the Trustee board in September 2011. A qualified surveyor, Edward first came into contact with Switchback when helping us negotiate our office move. Having served with the Brigade of Gurkhas in the Far East, Edward moved on to hold senior management roles at Credit Suisse, BT and Prudential. After three years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young, he is currently Associate Director for Business Services at the law firm, Allen & Overy LLP.

After graduating with a degree in Food Science, Gillian went on to spend most of her career from 1984 to 2009 in the investment banking industry at JP Morgan and Credit Suisse.  She worked in a variety of finance roles, including as a Financial Controller and as a regulatory specialist.  Prior to joining the Switchback Trustee board, she spent 10 years as Treasurer of a small, community based charity on the Isle of Dogs. She is also a serving Magistrate in East London.

Duncan Shrubsole observed Switchback emerge and grow while working at Crisis where he led its policy, communications and research for 9 years. He is passionate about the role of charities in changing lives and public policy and is now Director of Policy Communications and Partnerships at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales. He started his career in local government and the civil service and is a school governor in South East London.

Ben Summerskill was, at 25, Operations Director of a London restaurant business serving 14,000 meals a week. He then enjoyed a Fleet Street career, latterly as Assistant Editor of the Observer. From 2003-2014 he was CEO of Stonewall and from 2015-2018 Director of the Criminal Justice Alliance. He’s also a member of the Board of ACAS and the Honours Committee for the Voluntary Sector.

Our Patrons

Primrose Bell

I've been so proud to support Switchback since it started. The team is wonderful — energetic, full of integrity and always totally committed. And crucially they always keep Trainees at the heart of everything they do.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Switchback offers a commitment that really changes lives. This is why they are the River Cottage chosen charity and why I have joined them to celebrate their many successes at each and every one of their annual events.

Our Experts by Experience

Switchback’s Experts by Experience (EBE) board is a group of current and former Switchback Trainees who meet regularly to inform and improve Switchback’s work… read more

Michael M

Michael U





Our Advisers

Alison Flynn
Andrew Strachan
Andrew Robinson MBE
Anna Yearley
HH Judge Daniel Worsley (Ret.)
Emma Bell

Iona Lawrence
John Podmore
Katie Beck
Katharine Danton
Leah Selinger
Mr Gee
Milka Fisiha

Pamela Dow
Rachel Gill
Richard Hurst
Roma Hooper OBE
Shaffiq Din
Sophie Samuel
Slaney Wright
Wayne Hodges

Our Supporters

From charitable trusts to employers providing work experience for Trainees, we are very grateful to the fantastic partners and supporters who make Switchback’s work possible. See our Get Involved page to find out more about becoming a partner or supporter of Switchback.