Our History

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.

Peter Merrifield on blue background
Our History 2 older men joyful

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.


Peter was responsible for implementing the update EMIS and SystmOne clinical system to accept 111 direct appointment booking during surgery hours from 111 providers. Peter displayed numerous strengths including excellent communication and engagement skills with a range of stakeholders including Local Medical Committees, clinical leads, practice managers and senior management teams. His core skill is his work ethics and ability to overcome challenges and obstacles.

Yasmin Baker

Primary Care Access Lead

North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups


Peter’s positive attitude ensured he was extremely productive, helped with whatever was needed and remained proactive, ensuring the project was always progressing. Peter routinely sent updates to stakeholders at all levels. What stook out was that he made things simple to understand even when explaining quite complicated and intricate matters.

Yasmin Baker

Primary Care Access Lead

North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups


During our time working together Peter and his team led two service redesigns and oversaw the implementation of a new criminal justice service and a new Children & Young People’s service. In both instances, Peter was quick to grasp the strategic vision and translate it into a deliverable plan which he efficiently implemented, from inception to completion. What stood out about Peter were his values and his work ethic.

Philip Breslin

Former Drug & Alcohol Commissioner

Greenwich Council