Switch Up – our chosen charity of the year

The vital work of Switch Up is wholly dependent on the support of others, with the local business community playing a crucial role in the difference we’re able to make. As such, we’re honoured to have been chosen as Invest in Nottingham’s Charity of the Year.

Switch Up (and its sister charity Nottingham School of Boxing) utilises mentoring, sport, education and counselling to support young people from deprived backgrounds with complex issues. The team is helping them to transform their lives and transitioning them into employment, training, and further education.

Founder and CEO Marcellus Baz BEM wants to help young people avoid the same experience he had, to learn of the dangers they face with the path they are on, and to provide them with access to the opportunities he wished he’d had. This means connecting them with role models that have similar lived experiences, building a relationship of trust to communicate their fears and aspirations and ultimately linking them to the required support. “Baz” has a unique connection with these young people – also born in a deprived area of Nottingham, he was groomed into criminality. Baz uses his experience of how a serious attack ended his chance of a professional boxing career to now support others similarly affected by violence, inequality, and mental health issues.

The focus continues to be on vulnerable young people who are often from minority groups, although the team will help anyone that will benefit from a positive role model so they can believe in achieving a career outside of crime. This can be anyone that walks into the boxing gym, or referrals from social care or the police. In the last few years, our help has extended to families facing crisis due to the coronavirus through food parcels, warm clothes or advice on what the government guidelines mean for different cultural groups. With the pandemic continuing in 2022, we expect this additional arm of our work to unfortunately continue.

With the support of a variety of funders and business sponsors, the team achieves amazing things for Nottingham’s most vulnerable. From June 2020 to July 2021, 559 people were supported, receiving 987 hours of mentoring and 166 hours of counselling. 45% of these recipients were from the city’s BAME community. Among the schools we work with, 108 young people aged 9-10 were mentored and received other Switch Up services over the year at Mansfield Primary Academy and Seely Primary School (Sherwood) – at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is just a small snapshot of the significant impact our team has had on Nottingham’s young people.

The team has big plans for 2022. Switch Up will shortly establish a satellite base and gym in Mansfield, supporting families as well as young people in the area, encouraging them to reach their potential through learning opportunities through the boxing club, as well as simply creating a safe space for development. The team is thrilled to have agreed this permanent base in Mansfield having worked closely with the community since the pandemic began.

Also Switch Up’s employability programme, kindly supported by the Youth Futures Foundation and others, will be formalised and expanded. Over the next two years, the aim is to get over 100 vulnerable young people into employment, education or training. The team also plans to increase the number of schools and school children that Switch Up works with and the number of young people excluded from school that are provided with alternative education. The team is actively working alongside Police & Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry to prevent crime and antisocial behaviour among young people while Baz continues to support Nottinghamshire’s Violence Reduction Unit as a board member and community ambassador. The physical health of local young people will also keep being improved by increasing the number of classes and free sessions at its Nottingham School of Boxing gym.

To achieve our plan for the next two years and continue making a difference, we need the support on Nottingham’s business community. Please visit our website www.switch-up.org.uk or email info@switch-up.org.uk to find out how to refer someone to our services, begin a corporate sponsorship or make a donation.