At the time our Founder, Dan Charlish, was working as a youth worker on an estate in Stockwell. He overheard his group saying, whilst playing a snowboarding X-Box game, that this was the closest they were ever going to get to snowsports. A snowboarder himself, Dan realised that snowsports could be the mechanism to bring about positive social change for these young people. The shift from inner-city estate to the mountain environment was so extreme, that in itself created a response in young people, widening their horizons and raising their aspirations. The first Snow Camp trip took place in Les 2 Alpes in 2003 with 13 young people from Stockwell.
These residential trips grew each year, and by 2007 were being attended by over 350 inner city young people from across London. Snow Camp grew into a year round initiative with the launch of UK based training courses taking place at indoor snow centres, with young people heading to the mountains towards the end of the year as part of their instructor training. Apprenticeships were launched in 2012 adding further opportunities for young people, and Snow Camp expanded into Scotland, the Midlands and the North West over following years.
In 2018, a survey of our young people showed 83% felt they would benefit from greater support with their mental health and emotional well-being. As a result, mental health support through targeted workshops, mindfulness training, 1:1 counselling and group counselling sessions became key components of our courses. When Covid-19 struck, this mental health aspect of our work grew rapidly, and we knew we had to do even more.
In November 2020, we launched Stop.Breathe.Think directly in response to the struggles young people were facing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This unique mental health service offered free counselling sessions and support to any young person who would like to talk. With no wait times and a team of specialised counsellors ready to go, demand grew rapidly.
Over the last 19 years, Snow Camp has played a growing and significant role as a leading youth service, using sport to engage hard to reach young people and making a positive difference to thousands of young lives. Now, following the pandemic, we are running another exciting service – and we are rapidly expanding Stop.Breathe.Think to achieve a similar level of impact and play a significant role in the support of young people and their mental health in this country.
In January 2022, recognising the need to create a clearer structure that would best enable both Snow Camp and Stop.Breathe.Think to exist independently, Switch180 was born, a national youth charity with broader goals to support young peoples physical and mental health run by the same passionate and committed team.
Switch180 is fully committed to the continued growth and development of both Snow Camp and Stop.Breathe.Think, and potentially other innovative projects in the future. We will always aim to deliver and grow services which turn young lives around, and as we approach our 20th birthday next year, we are as passionate and motivated as ever about delivering this goal.
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We started Switch180 recognising that many young people had low aspirations around education or employment and had a lack of opportunity to participate in any sport or leisure activity. In 2003, we took 13 young people on a life-changing week to the French Alps. There was just something profound about the mountains and the way that snowsports impacted on the young people. We just knew we had something really special and Snow Camp was born. Having seen the growth in mental health needs of our young people on Snow Camp, in 2020 we committed to expanding this aspect of our work through a new mental health service called Stop.Breathe.Think. In just one year we have supported hundreds of young people and are hoping to do so much more in the coming years. Watch this space!Dan Charlish Founder and Director
I first met Switch180 in 2012. I was seeking to add to my social responsibility work and imagine my luck; with a lifelong passion for skiing, I immediately find a charity focussed on using snowsports to support inner-city youth here in the UK! I hope that my financial services and governance background helps me bring some added accountability to Switch180's work, to support our essential values and service to our communities.Alan Grant Chair of the Trustees
We’re always looking for passionate people to join our team. Find out what opportunities we have available below.Careers