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Experts by Experience Board

Keeping Switchback Trainees at the heart of everything we do

Switchback’s most important value is keeping Trainees at the heart of everything we do, so our Experts by Experience Board plays a central role shaping everything from our campaigning to programme development.

Launched in 2017, this group of current and former Switchback Trainees meets regularly and ensures that all our activity is rooted in the real lives and experiences of those who understand the impact of the system best: the experts by experience. This can range from discussing topical issues, shaping Switchback’s policy priorities and key messages, to deciding our communications and feeding into our strategic planning.

Members also play a role in-between meetings with media and research work, meetings with key stakeholders such as MPs and government officials, and co-designing and delivering practitioner training for prison and probation staff and other organisations.

A lot of us have friends who are still in the system. We’re trying to change the system to help our friends. We’re trying to make a difference for them.”

Pellum, Switchback EBE Board member
Adapting to the pandemic

In 2020, despite Covid-19, the EBE Board decided to ramp up its activity to a new level. During the pandemic, EBE members played a central role in deciding our campaign priorities and in the development of our new six-week programme, Foundation for Stability. Members of the Board also helped develop and deliver our campaign to raise the discharge grant, hosted officials from the Ministry of Justice to help shape the £20m Prison Leavers Project, and featured on BBC London News and BBC Politics London raising awareness about homelessness and barriers to employment faced by prison leavers. To strengthen the links between EBE and Trustee Board, last year we launched a new role of Board Adviser, filled by EBE member Eshan, who had also been Switchback’s first Policy Intern.

It’s really nice to see your own quotes online, and to know you’re actually making a difference. I definitely don’t have these sort of chats with my mates. I don’t usually think about these things until we discuss them, so it’s nice to even find out my own opinions. And hearing feedback about the difference we’re making, like helping to get more funding for housing, feels fulfilling.

James, Bar Worker and Switchback EBE Member
Recently members of the EBE Board have:
  •  Been involved from the start in discussions about Switchback’s new strategic plan for 2022 onwards.
  • Worked with the Ministry of Justice to shape the Prison Leavers Project, in particular the Prison Leavers Innovation Challenge encouraging companies to develop innovative tech solutions for people leaving prison.
  • Co-designed a social media campaign raising awareness about racial inequality in the UK justice system.
  • Shaped Switchback’s policy priorities during the pandemic – helping to push for action on access to housing, technology and finance for prison-leavers.
  • Shaped the development and content of Switchback’s new Foundation for Stability programme of post-release support during the pandemic.
  • Co-produced and co-delivered training for new prison officers on the Unlocked Graduates programme.
  • EBE member Eshan became Switchback’s first Policy Intern and Trustee Board Adviser, strengthening the link between the EBE Board and the Board of Trustees.

There’s not a lot of people that can say they discuss these issues. No one I know talks about these things. It’s great to have a group where you can talk about something with substance, that’s meaningful, and discussions that will lead to change, especially if we’re working with the government.

Guellor, business owner and Switchback EBE Member

I never otherwise have these conversations with anyone. And on top of that, I feel these meetings keep me on track, it keeps me in check to have to come and have these conversations. It’s a reminder to stay out of trouble, stay on track, stay positive and stick to your goals – all that good stuff."

Caleeb, Switchback EBE member

To find out more about Switchback’s Experts by Experience Board or to discuss working together, please contact