Healthy, fulfilling, adventurous lives are ones with multiple chapters and I feel sure that the same is true for healthy organisations.
For myself, and for Switchback, it’s now time for a change. So, nearly 15 years after founding Switchback, I will be moving on as CEO in October.
Switchback has always been about the Trainees – the young men we exist to support. From the very beginning, co-founder Slaney and I set out to create something that wasn’t dependent on us. Something strong and rooted that would model the stability young men needed in the chaos of release from prison.
I’m so pleased that my moving on this year is therefore a mark of success. The organisation, with its courageous, compassionate and skilled team and board, is robust and independent of me. And it is those wonderful Switchback people, each without exception committed to what’s best for Trainees, who give me the courage to make this move.
Alice and Slaney during Switchback’s first year, 2008
Alice Switchback Mentoring, 2009
Running a small charity with big ideas is never plain sailing. But I’m very proud (forgive the metaphor, I’ve always thought of Switchback as a boat!) of having captained the ship through all sorts of challenging conditions and changeable weather, charting a course through the rocky justice system, supporting over 450 young men with a radical model of intensive through-the-gate support, and starting to forge wider change across the system.
Just as we encourage Trainees to roll with the ups and downs, Switchback has held its course through big changes before and always come out stronger – even after a global pandemic. I could not be more certain that Switchback today is strong and seaworthy enough to go forward with a new captain and thrive with new energy and ideas.
We’re also at an incredibly exciting juncture. We’re reaching more young prison leavers than ever while now also influencing real shifts in policy and practice. Our largest ever team of 20 brilliant humans is backed up by an incredible Board of Trustees and Experts by Experience Board. And we have a bold, ambitious new 3-year plan in place for Switchback to become an even bigger Platform for Change by 2025.
Because Switchback has always put relationships at the heart of everything we do, we also benefit from an incredible network of people (you!) who believe deeply in our work. So I have no doubt that this change will also herald a positive coming together of Switchback’s friends and supporters to carry us through to a new chapter. So please get in touch and renew your commitment to Switchback’s work!
Alice with Switchback Experts by Experience (EBE) Board, 2019
..and with EBE member Michael on BBC News.
Together we have built and achieved something extraordinary at Switchback and yet we know there’s so much more to do. Thousands of young men each year are leaving overcrowded prisons without a home, a job or someone to believe in them, driving reoffending which still sits at nearly 50%. Many are still locked up for 23 hours a day. These statistics, a belief that relationships are critical to change and a strong sense that we’re all responsible for making things better, first fired me to set up Switchback in 2008. The same things now fire up the team to drive for more – and with your help we will achieve more.
At our team meeting this week, together in our sunny new office, I looked around the room at the bright and big-hearted bunch of brilliant people, three of whom are former Switchback Trainees now on payroll. As we discussed upcoming plans I felt a pang of how much I’ll miss working together with them all.
Leading this team will be an enormous privilege and we are asking you please to support our trustees with their hunt for a brilliant new CEO. The job will go live in the next week, so if you know someone who’d make a fantastic leader for Switchback’s new era, please get in touch.
To all of Switchback’s wonderful friends, partners, donors – and the hundreds of Trainees who have shown such inspirational courage and determination to change since we opened our doors – thank you!