SWITCH UP launches building positive futures

By Grace Kennington

Nottingham’s most celebrated stars came together on Thursday 9th May to raise over £90, 000 for local charity Switch Up for them to continue their vital work supporting the city’s most vulnerable young people.

Hosted by Switch Up patrons Vernon Kay and TNT Sports’ Darren Fletcher, the evening celebrated the raw passion and community spirit that the city has to offer.

Appearances were also made from fellow patrons Olympic figure skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure, and double-world champion boxer Leigh Wood. Supporters who regrettably could not attend the event recorded video messages showing their support for the charity, including Rio Ferdinand and Stuart Broad. The charity also proudly announced its newest patron Nottingham Forest’s Joe Worrall, who was born and raised in Nottingham and is excited to give back to the city he loves.

The focus of the evening was to raise funds to create a new community hub for Switch to operate out of in the future and form a safe space for vulnerable people to get the support they need. The charity, based in Nottingham and Mansfield, uses a unique five-pillar system to support vulnerable young people and help them towards building a more hopeful future. By combining the discipline and physical exercise of boxing with mental health support, educational provision, and employment skills, Switch Up supports and provides safety to young people.

Speaking about his work with Switch Up during his time as a patron, Darren Fletcher spoke passionately about the vital work the charity does: ‘The work they do is essential because, without their drive and their sheer determination to change people’s lives, a lot of people would suffer.’

The appeal, which launched on 25th April, aims to raise funds to build a new community hub in the centre of Nottingham. The existing building in St Anne’s has been the home of Switch Up for over 10 years and is no longer suitable for the needs of the charity.

‘We have to get the building,’ explained Fletcher. ‘The building we are in now is not fit for purpose. It’s got dry rot; it’s falling down but the centre itself is so important. These people have nowhere to go. They have no sense of belonging. They are from broken families, and they’ve got no one helping them. When they go to the centre, it’s their world – it’s their community.’

The new building, which will become a sanctuary for vulnerable young people, will include a boxing gym, 1-on-1 counselling rooms and spaces for learning. It will be a safe and positive environment for people from the local community to get the support and guidance they need.

Recalling her visits to the Switch Up sites in St Anne’s and Mansfield, Vicky McClure said, ‘It’s way more than a boxing gym. There’s so much more going on there in terms of education and supporting mental health and talking and just making sure that people have a safe space to go.’

Vernon Kay, who has been a patron of Switch Up for the last two years, urged people to understand the importance of raising the funds to allow Switch Up to continue to operate.

According to Kay, speaking to the young people supported by Switch Up, he realised that ‘the sun doesn’t always shine on everyone, so I think it’s important to give everyone a chance and an opportunity.’

The evening also included speeches by some of the young people who have had their lives changed by Switch Up.

Kaleb began his journey with Switch Up in November 2023. From a young age, he grew up surrounded by violence and was later excluded from school. He spent his time roaming the area near his home carrying weapons, smashing cars, and lashing out at people. Kaleb was referred to Switch Up by Youth Justice and, after working with him on anger management, discipline and getting his education back on track, he is now hopeful for the future. With the support of Switch Up, he will be sitting his GCSEs this summer and plans to go to college to study music production.

Another young person, Mollie, spoke about her experiences with Switch Up. After the loss of her father at a young age, she felt misunderstood and felt like no one else’s brain worked in the same way as her. She was labelled as a troublemaker and was eventually excluded from school, so she decided to abandon her education and instead spent days at a time away from home drinking and getting into fights. Her mentoring and work with Switch Up gave her the time and space she needed to feel supported and understood again. She is now working hard to get into college, hoping to become an air hostess in the future. The time she spent with Switch Up turned her life around and she now volunteers with Switch Up to help other young girls like herself.

Switch Up offers so much to the young people of Nottingham that would otherwise be abandoned by the authorities. The work this charity does is essential to helping vulnerable people and families create a more positive future for themselves and this work cannot be done without outside support. The fundraiser was able to help raise a huge amount to help towards the community hub and the operational costs of running the charity but Switch Up needs ongoing support to be able to continue the essential work they are currently doing.

To donate, follow the link below.