Having worked with both myself, George Turner, an experienced youth worker and Mark Reigate, a trained boxing coach (who Mick and boxing had saved from a life of crime), Mick had the idea of a project which used boxing to engage disadvantaged young people, combined with mentoring, to support young people to become ‘the best they can be’ in all areas of life.
Mark and I had started putting the idea into action on a small scale, when Mick passed away in 2011. George and Mark then decided to make the project official and named the charity Carney’s Community to carry on Mick’s legacy.
We aim to reduce offending, re-offending and anti-social behaviour, whilst improving social mobility and community cohesion. We have two main activities – long-term, consistent and unconditional mentoring and boxing. Activities are targeted at young people, aged 10-30 years, who come from deprived backgrounds (and many from 'hard-to-reach' groups such as ex-offenders, gang members and those with disabilities). Our approach is unusual and resource intensive but ultimately effective because creating lasting changes takes time, hard work and dedication.
All young people have boxing sessions or drop-in activities as their start point. These sessions are based on fitness, and focus on discipline, control of emotions and the honour code. They are open to people of all abilities and disabilities and there is a culture of supporting one another. It creates the family/community feel. The sessions are free, although we do open a third of the available places to members of the public and encourage them to donate. The reason we do this is because we feel it is important for our participants to network and mix with people from different backgrounds and cultures. We aim to train up some of the participants to be coaches themselves and have recently (January 2016) set up a personal training social enterprise and to date have paid over £25,000 to ex participants.
Mentoring support is promoted to all our young people, particularly those engaged in, or at high-risk of, offending. When both staff and young people feel ready, a personal development plan is created which outlines how they will positively progress in areas such as non-offending, education and employment. We make it clear that our support is NOT free. We don’t ask for money, but instead say that when they have turned their life around they need to help us continue the virtuous cycle that Mick Carney created and support the younger generation, be it through mentoring or offering work experience and/or qualifications.
Our consistent and unconditional support is always there and available to Carney’s members. We do not look to exit people from our community, but rather to change their role. They move from being supported, to supporting others and if they every start struggling the role can fluidly move back to being supported…..like with any good family.
This is a short trailer of a documentary that follows our work with 5 participants
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