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How Gloves Not Gunz deliver a knockout blow to crime

Gloves Not Gunz is an organisation with all the ingredients that go into a successful sport-based intervention – and yet another example of the power of boxing to reduce crime.

Gloves Not Gunz’s programmes use boxing as an engagement tool to achieve a variety of positive outcomes with young people. These include preventing youth violence, rehabilitation of young offenders and targeted workshops for those at risk of becoming involved in knife and gun crime, county lines and gangs.

The organisation is based in Croydon in south London, with another hub in Fulham. Plans are afoot for a third hub in north London and investment from the Home Office and the Big Lottery Fund is behind two exciting new projects launching in October.

Firstly, £30,000 from the Home Office will help expand an existing pilot programme for young people at risk of involvement in gangs, knife crime and drugs. Some are referred by social services of youth offending teams, while others are engaged through outreach work.

The programme will operate in several pre-identified crime hot spots in south London, using boxing and fitness as an engagement hook alongside educational workshops and counselling and therapy sessions. Delivery will also take place in schools with 12-week programmes working with both perpetrators and victims of knife crime.

The other new funding stream – £8,000 from the National Lottery Awards For All scheme – will go towards a new project called Box Flow, which combines boxing and yoga to help young people to manage their emotions.

“Without stereotyping too much, yoga wouldn’t normally be something that young people we work with would be interested in,” says Gloves Not Gunz Co-Founder Ben Eckett.

“Boxing is what gets them hooked in, but the yoga not only helps with their flexibility and mobility, they also say they feel more relaxed afterwards and can manage their emotions. It’s very therapeutic.”

It was two and a half years ago when Ben (who had previously been a youth worker and worked on a youth offending team) joined forces with Croydon Boxing Club manager Adam Ballard to form Gloves Not Gunz.

Their blend of skills and experience was perfect, and they soon set about forging community partnerships that would provide wraparound support for young people in terms of training, facilities, funding and expertise in sport, mentoring and education.

Link-ups with Crystal Palace FC and Chelsea FC ensured funding and support for their community sessions, while a partnership with Fight for Peace’s alumni programme augmented the coaching, mentoring and education elements for young people.

Ben is ambitious about the potential scale of their impact: “Ultimately what I’d like to do is have hubs all over London that mimic what we do here. We want to try and respond to need so we have a Gloves Not Gunz in every hotspot where there’s known gang activity, drugs and knife crime.

“We get a lot of young people that youth offending teams and social care have found it difficult to engage. What works for us is that when young people come into this environment and don’t see us as ‘the establishment’ which makes them much more likely to buy into what we’re doing.”

Read more on the power of boxing:

Our Co-Founder James Mapstone gives a passionate response to the Government’s rejection of pilot prison boxing programmes. More

The Alliance of Sport is to support the social impact of boxing by joining the All Party Parilamentary Group on Boxing. More

Read all about the inspirational journey of Marcellus Baz and his SwitchUp programme which helps young people break the cycle of crime and realise their potential. More

Fight for Peace’s ‘Five Pillars’ methodology places boxing and martial arts at the centre of an intensive, holistoc approach to working with at-risk young people and offenders. More

Read how Anfield North Liverpool Boxing Club is using a range of programmes to tackle gun and knife crime, gangs, substance abuse and anti-social behaviour. More

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