Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club
Creating a stronger community through the values of respect, discipline and courage.
The Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club was set up 9 years ago, in June 2008, by three serving firefighters after they experienced anti-social behaviour while out performing duties in the community.
The club is run by Nigel Travis, one of the founding members, and a team of volunteers who manage all aspects from training through to administration. The primary aim of the club was to engage with the local community, especially vulnerable and disadvantaged children, to embed some positive values within a community that had become fractured, and even dangerous.
Moss Side is one of Manchester's most deprived wards and many of the children in this area are exposed to violence, gang culture and neglect from a very young age. The latest Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) ranks this area 411 out of 32,844 in England. DWP statistics (2011) indicate that the rate of unemployment in Moss Side is higher than both local and national averages, with 25% more people claiming benefits (including in work benefits) than the national average.
The deprivation and resulting anti-social and violent behaviour has resulted in many injuries and deaths over the years. Some of this violence was also directed at firefighters stationed at the Moss Side Fire Station, who would often be 'stoned' by the youths while out on jobs in the community.
Sport has always been a great way of bringing communities together, and the firefighters' previous experience in the world of boxing made this a natural path to take. Through instilling the values of courage, respect and discipline, the firefighters hoped to create a happier and more cohesive community.
Offering the children the opportunity to participate in alternative activities has been an excellent way to promote a healthy relationship with the fire service and the community as a whole. Participation in the club gives the children an escape from the difficulties they face, and provides a safe space where they learn our core values of respect, discipline and courage. Access to the club means the children are not under pressure to engage in criminal activity or join gangs, in the hope that they will be insulated from some of the negative effects of living within this community.
Our mission is to help create a safe, respectful, and happy community, where children grow into responsible adults. To this end, the activities of the boxing club will be expanded slowly over the next few years to accommodate more children, and offer a wider range of services to include children not in education, employment or training.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We have ambitious plans for growth over the next few years. The feedback from our users has been impressive, especially considering the organic way in which the club has grown. There have been noticeable changes in the lives of many of the children who attend the sessions. They are healthier, happier and making smarter decisions about their futures, and this is something we want to continue to build on.
As a first step, we plan to expand our school engagement program. We currently work with 5 secondary schools in the area, and would love to work with many more, as well as include local primary schools in the outreach program. To be able to achieve this goal, it is vital that we expand the space we currently have, in order to accommodate our growing numbers. There are already plans in place to double the capacity of the gym, and once this part of the project is completed, we expect to double the number of sessions currently offered and offer a more tailored and enriching experience for our users.
In the longer term, we will be developing a few educational paths to include training for 16-19 year olds, a program for individuals not in education, employment or training (NEET), and a youth council embedded in the organisation. We feel that better decisions are made with input from the people affected and the children are more likely to make the right choices if they have a say in the decisions that impact them. Participants in the development programmes will also be encourage to participate in the gym for a more rounded lifestyle.
Following the trend set so far, these improvements will have a positive impact on key indicators such as attendance, health, participation and attainment at school, and resulting benefits in the lives of these young people. The work to the building will also bring about visual improvement and provide a facility that the community are proud of, and which acts as a vehicle for greater adhesion and integration within the community.
This particular fund will help us realise the goal of doubling our capacity in the gym. Double the amount of space available also means we will need more equipment in the gym, if we are going to be able to provide our services to many more people. These funds will go into the pot allocated for the purchase of new gym equipment, which includes new boxing bags, brackets, gloves, and replacing the floor mat.
As we intend to provide better services to our current users and double current capacity, it is expected that this investment will benefit in excess of 1500 active users in the years to come.
""As a club, we believe as Nelson Mandela said: 'Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there once was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.’"