WONDER visits Switchback 

Back in March we told you about the charity Switchback which we have decided to support. Since then, a few members of our team have visited Switchback HQ. It was their aim to find out more about the charity, whilst starting to map out and explore the best ways that WONDER can help.

To fully get to grips with the charity’s methods, we attended a 45-minute talk on what the usual team routine entails. It’s a long, but highly beneficial, process for those Trainees who want to be a part of the scheme.

There’s three main stages to the programme. It starts with Switchback Mentors visiting prisons weekly, meeting with eligible prisoners. During the Trainees last three months inside, they meet regularly with their Switchback Mentor and start to plan for a stable future.

The Trainee then begins a tailored programme of work-focussed activities as soon as they are released; using real work environments to develop employability skills.  Following this, Switchback then works closely with a wide range of employers, arranging visits, work placements, mock interviews and job applications, something the team at WONDER London is keen to get involved with.

A Trainee’s Switchback Mentor helps them learn how to make the right choices, be reliable and get the help they need. Emphasis is placed on exposing Trainees to new experiences - anything from camping in Devon to visiting a counsellor for the first time.

Creating these levels of engagement at the early stages is important, as it helps foster trusting relationships from the get-go. Over the past year the charity has seen tangible results for Switchback Trainees as they undergo authentic and long-lasting change. This is particularly important considering how nationally, 49% of offenders leaving prison reoffend within a year, whereas for Switchback Trainees, this figure is currently 8%.

Clearly the methods Switchback use are working. In the future we’d love to build our relationship with the charity further. Perhaps creating the opportunity to learn about how different industries, such as events, work – enabling Trainees to consider a variety of possible career options.

We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you want to learn more you can visit their website: www.switchback.org.uk