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Boxing training in Blyth helps engage with local asylum seekers and refugees

A community organisation in Blyth has been providing non-contact boxing training and fitness sessions to reach and engage with refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) in the community. Boxing Well received a £5,000 grant from the EDF Energy Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Wind Farm Community Benefit at the Community Foundation, allowing them to put on sessions four days a week, all year round. 

Operating out of the Empire School of Boxing in Blyth, Boxing Well focuses on the benefits of non-contact boxing training to anyone suffering with mental health problems, to improve their mental and physical health. Given the increasing number of RAS in the community, with little outreach and fewer provisions for exercise, Boxing Well developed a training program specifically for them. 

Pete Barrett, Senior Programmes Advisor at the Community Foundation said: 

“Boxing Well is providing vital support to refugees and asylum seekers, a population marginalised and often excluded in wider society. The training not only benefits the mental health of participants but helps to reduce isolation and foster a sense of belonging in the community”. 

David Bullock from Boxing Well explained the impact the grant had made: 

“The grant has made a huge difference to our organisation as it has allowed us to work closely with a client group that is very close to our hearts. Many of our clients are not allowed to work because of Home Office rules on seeking asylum, which can lead to feelings of alienation, frustration and anger, with their lives effectively being put on hold. What Boxing Well has done is give them the opportunity to attend a gym class, three times a week entirely free of charge. 

“We would like to thank everyone at both EDF RE and the Community Foundation for taking a chance on us and supporting us on our journey. We will not forget this help that has been given to us along the way”. 

Working with Newcastle University Sports and Exercise Psychology Team, Boxing Well were able to identify an increase in the confidence and happiness of participants, as well as improved levels of fitness. A survey also showed that the sessions had a positive impact on both mood and general feelings of wellbeing.