SWIM: a personal mission to reach out to seldom heard people who need support when it matters.
SWIM’s founder and Chief Executive is Peter Merrifield, a Black British man from Hackney in East London. His recovery from a sustained period of poor mental health, substance misuse, homelessness and the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in his 30’s, informs SWIM’s mission to give support when it matters to improve the health, well-being and life chances of those in our communities.
The care he received turned Peter’s life around – and motivated him to change his path. He left a career in building surveying to work with vulnerable young people and adults in the CJS with dual diagnosis challenges. He started out at the same residential treatment centre in Bournemouth that had supported him through his own crisis.
Returning to London, he went on to lead teams in Tottenham and Greenwich providing specialist support for people having trouble with substance misuse, offending behaviours, mental health and wellbeing. His years in social care work taught him about the systemic barriers to equal treatment for ethnic minorities engrained in primary care pathways – barriers that SWIM is working to dismantle through awareness raising and collaborative pathway redesign.
In summer 2019, Peter realised a long-held ambition to give something back by forming Support When It Matters, a social enterprise dedicated to giving others the support and compassion he received himself. His years in recovery have given him the discipline and strength to guide others through rehabilitation and desistance so they can lead healthy, law-abiding and purposeful lives.
Peter is supported by dedicated professionals who bring the value of their own lived experience to the delivery of SWIM’s resettlement, mental health and community outreach programmes.