Rehabilitation charities recognised in parliament

26 Feb 2016

Switchback and St Giles Trust have been given prizes for their outstanding work with prisoners during and after custody at a ceremony held in parliament.

The Robin Corbett Award was presented to London-based charity Switchback for its work mentoring prisoners and preparing them for employment, while St Giles Trust was awarded second place for its support of foreign national prisoners.

St Giles Trust is a member of the Prisoner Learning Alliance (PLA), set up by Prisoners’ Education Trust (PET) as a forum to discuss ways the reform of education in prisons.

Switchback, which was nominated for its work at HMP/YOI Isis in Thamesmead, works with prisoners on release back to London. Prisoners are linked to a mentor in the last three months of their sentence. Within a week of release, they start work at one of Switchback’s partner training cafés, to develop skills in a working kitchen. After release, trainees are supported towards employment through work placements, mock interviews and visits.   

Alice Dawnay, co-founder and director of Switchback, said: “The work we do at Switchback is not easy but it works. We are thrilled that the Robin Corbett Award has recognised the value of our approach. This recognition will help us to continue to build relationships that change the way offenders think about, and participate in, society, enabling them to lead stable, rewarding lives.”

Meanwhile, St Giles Trust was nominated for its work at HMP Huntercombe, a prison that only detains foreign national inmates. Funded by the Bell Foundation, the scheme trains men to become peer advisors who provide advice to their fellow prisoners on resettlement, immigration and maintaining family contact.

Rob Owen OBE, Chief Executive of St Giles Trust, said: “I am delighted that this very important, innovative part of our Peer Advisor Programme has reached the finals of such a prestigious award. The needs of foreign national prisoners are often little understood so I hope this accolade will help bring attention to them and enable us to develop our work further in this area.”

Lady Corbett presented the award at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group on 23rd February. The award was established in 2012 in memory of the former chair of the All Party Group Lord Corbett. It is administrated by the Prison Reform Trust.