Every month, thousands of people are released from prison with just a plastic bag of belongings and nowhere to go.
This is not only a huge waste of human potential – it’s also causing more crime and placing huge strain on public spending.
We’re calling on the government to reshape release for people leaving prison, to reduce reoffending and give people a real chance to change.
Watch this video featuring former Switchback Trainees Luke, Fadel, Brian and Patrick to find out more:
In order to thrive, people first need the basic essentials to survive.
Switchback’s evidence, and wider research, is clear that supportive relationships are key to enabling prison leavers to build stable lives away from crime.
But our Trainees tell us that people first need the bare essentials just to survive: access to housing, technology and finance.
Over and over again, we meet people who want to make a new start after prison but are held back by homelessness and hardship.
According to government data:
Switchback Trainees tell us…
”The reason I got sent to jail was not having money and being homeless. Releasing me into the exact same situation doesn’t make any sense.Patrick, 22, Switchback Trainee
”When I was released I had to spend £18 on a cab to get to probation on time. Then I bought some food and it was gone. It took me 7 weeks to get any more money because I was trying to sort a bank account, which you need for Universal Credit.Joel, 26, Switchback Trainee
”I was taken to the gates by a group of officers and let out the door with three bags, no phone and no way to contact anyone. Not having a plan caused anxiety.Patrick, 22, Switchback Trainee
”Being on the streets is only going to lead you to doing things you don't want to do, just to put yourself under a roof.Brian, 26, Switchback Trainee
Among Switchback Trainees:
Sources: Howard League; Ministry of Justice
What needs to change?
In 2021, following campaigns by organisations including Switchback, the government increased the one-off discharge grant given to prison leavers for the first time in 25 years – from £46 to £76.
This is a good start – but more action is needed to give people leaving prison a basic foundation to re-enter society and build stable lives. We’re calling for three urgent actions needed for prison leavers:
Our Trainees tell us that stable housing is the single most important factor for starting to build a stable life away from crime.
A communications lifeline is vital to comply with license conditions and access essential services like benefits.
Trainees tell us that without these lifelines, buying food or reaching key appointments in the week after release would be impossible.
Switchback’s work shows that when people are supported to get these basics sorted at release, they have a real chance to start building a stable life they can be proud of.
Join our campaign!
Watch former Switchback Trainee Patrick describe his experience of being released from prison homeless: