children & young people

Gloves up, knifes down at youth centre

A GRASSROOTS initiative is encouraging young people off the streets and into boxing clubs. Gloves up, Knives Down was founded in 2019 to support young people living in communities affected by knife crime and provide access to boxing training to help them lead fulfilling and healthy lives away from crime.

The organisation believes the discipline of boxing can help young people channel their energy and frustrations in a more productive and positive way, helping to build thier physical fitness and mental wellbeing as well as helping to create stronger communities. Gloves up, Knives Down is working with Achieving for Children, a charity providing children’s services in the boroughs of Kingston, Richmond and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Fighting knife crime through football

WESTWAY FC is a community-based football hub run by Everyone Active in partnership with the Westway Trust at Westway Sports & Fitness Centre in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Operating in areas of high deprivation and knife crime, the hub offers accessible and affordable football for all, including pay and play, team training, holiday programmes, college programmes and school programmes. Largely focused on under-represented groups, BAME populations, children from low income backgrounds and the Grenfell community, Westway FC provides around £72,000 worth of funded programmes to more than 20,000 children each year. Over 500 children play football on its 3G pitches every week. Westway FC has partnered with a number of community organisations to support diversionary activity for under 16s, many of whom have been affected by crime. “A key focus for us is to expand our diversionary programme by working with relevant local community groups; this is especially aimed at working against rising levels of knife crime within our community,” says Alison Norman, Everyone Active’s contract manager.

“We recently arranged funding for West London FC to access football pitches for free. This means they can provide football free of charge to under 18s. They are made up a number of organisations, including St Giles Trust, that are trying to make a difference in young people’s lives who have been affected by crime.”

Westway FC offers pathways for talented local football players to graduate from its programme onto professional football clubs. It also offers employment opportunities and career pathways into coaching. “The coaches are good aspirational role models. Many of them played at Westway as children, live in the area and have joined our successful coaching team. We believe that a combination of a safe, positive environment and influences can benefit young people’s outlook,” says Norman.

Westway FC is launching its Academy Programme in association with Rising Ballers Foundation this September to provide educational and practical programme for children aged 16-18 wanting to make a career out of football. 29

Achieving for Children operates Whitton Youth Zone, a youth centre providing dedicated facilities and services for children and young people aged 11-19. The organisation has refurbished its gym with help from Matrix Fitness, which donated new cardio equipment and Hatton Boxing bags, gloves and pads. The equipment supplier also arranged training for the Youth Zone staff so they can deliver boxing sessions to young people.

“The aim of this project is to break down barriers between police, young people and the local community. We want to encourage more young people to use the gym, improve their fitness and keep them off the streets,” says Mandy Smith, area youth work leader for Achieving for Children.

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