Trainee Journeys

“It was a big change. It showed me that I can work and enjoy it.”

By June 6, 2019November 2nd, 2019No Comments

Cyrus, 25, grew up in North London with his Mum and older brother. Cyrus has been with Switchback since December 2018, when we met him in HMP Thameside. He’s currently working at an events rigging company, hoping to eventually work in the fitness industry as a personal trainer.

‘I looked up to my older brother. We enjoyed nice things and we found a way to afford them. We both got side-tracked. My mum tried to stop us but we just did what we wanted.’ Both Cyrus and his brother ended up in prison on drugs offences, both reoffended after their first release. After an initial 18 month sentence, Cyrus was back in prison for another 6 months for a different offence. When he was arrested this time he was homeless, having been kicked out of his family home and sleeping in his car. He was at rock bottom.

Cyrus starts at Switchback

When Cyrus met his Switchback Mentor Monique in Thameside, he was nervous to start on the programme because, like many of our Trainees, he’d never had a real job. It took courage to accept the opportunity that Switchback represented.

Cyrus soon started at one of our partner training cafes, the Café from Crisis. ‘It was a big change but it was good. It showed me that I can work and enjoy it.’ After three months of training there and one-to-one mentoring from Monique, Cyrus’ mind turned back to his passion: sports and fitness.

Sports was a big part of his childhood. ‘I wasn’t one of the most academically blessed kids, but I always got picked first for sports teams. I was even playing for teams older than me. I loved feeling welcome in sports, part of a team, and I hope I can give that feeling to other people by working in as a personal trainer.’

His Mentor Monique put him in touch with people in the fitness industry who invited him to shadow them and learn about their work. He felt ready to make the next step towards his dream job.


Cyrus’ journey appeared to be going in the right direction but he encountered many setbacks. He attended a few job interviews but had no luck. He never heard back from the gym, which damaged his confidence. ‘In my first interview my body language wasn’t positive, and they sent me back halfway through the day. I felt like a failure.’

Monique worked through all these setbacks with him. She encouraged him to see the long term, to find different paths towards his ultimate goal of a job in fitness. Monique suggested he apply for an event rigging company. This would be physical work, helping him maintain his fitness on the job, while also teaching him valuable skills he can use for life.

Being part of something good

Looking ahead at this new job, Cyrus says: ‘It’ll help build responsibility. It’ll get me used to working. I’ll be able to save money and settle into my new life.’

If he were to give new Trainees some advice, he’d say: ‘Just give it go. Within a month of being with Switchback, I was in the court I was sentenced in not as a prisoner but sitting alongside a retired judge, Judge Worsley, learning about the justice system. That felt liberating.’

‘You need to grow out of your old life and it’ll be hard. But life’s all about growth. Now I feel part of something good at Switchback. I’ve got a voice. That’s worth giving it a go, definitely.’


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