Empire Fighting Chance - supported by Raise Your Hands | Supporting Small Charities

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Empire Fighting Chance

Knocking Down Barriers

Using a combination of non-contact boxing and intensive personal support to challenge and inspire young people experiencing adversity and disadvantage to realise their unique potential.

Empire Fighting Chance (EFC) was born on Bristol’s streets in 2006 to fight the impact of deprivation on the lives of young people.

The EFC model combines boxing with psychologically informed support, delivered by someone they trust and who is fighting in their corner.

Young people are supported in a way that is enjoyable and feels safe, encouraging them to turn up, engage and go onto make positive changes to their lives.

The Cause

The majority of EFC participants live in poverty, poor housing and workless households. Many are from communities facing racial inequality, who experience a further layer of disadvantage through racism and identity issues.

These toxic socio-economic conditions create a range of emotional issues, including anger, anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and low self-esteem. Some have experienced trauma, often through sexual abuse and domestic violence.

When distress is expressed in ways that are behavioural rather than emotional, this can lead to punishment rather than care and support. Most young people supported by EFC have been excluded from school and/or involved in anti-social or criminal activity, such as substance misuse, gang crime, vandalism, self-harm and offending.

What They Do

 There are three main streams of the programme at EFC:

1)    Training with the Champions: boxing combined with mentoring delivered by a youth worker. Empire’s coaches draw upon session plans that use boxing drills, games and metaphors to share Empire’s psychological principles for healthy thinking and positive action.

 2)    Boxing Therapy: Empire’s take on therapy features a therapist seamlessly weaving a therapeutic intervention into a boxing session. Therapists use boxing to connect young people with rich psychological knowledge and help them use it to improve their lives.

3)    Boxing and careers: a coach supports young people to develop a positive mindset and career pathway during boxing sessions. Young people are then offered suitable employment and other progression opportunities and gain support to access and make the best use of these.

– A story from Empire Fighting Chance-

Reece’s Journey

Thirteen-year-old Reece was referred by his foster carer, Tom. Tom explained that; “When Reece came to us, he was eight. Tests showed he had enough drugs in him to suggest he was a regular amphetamine user. There were lots of drugs lying around the house he’d come from; they were hidden in the kid’s toys.”

Reece had endured sexual abuse and long periods of his childhood spent locked inside a room as his parents dealt drugs in the front room. As Reece got older, he become angry about his treatment.

He would flip tables and lash out at those around him. His self-esteem suffered; “I know myself as a nice, kind young man but whenever I am carrying my anger around, it makes me feel ashamed of myself. I feel I want to hurt myself back.”

Reece joined Boxing Therapy and was matched with a Therapist. Tom explained that; “The first few sessions were spent building up a relationship and after that Reece was able to openly talk about his feelings and where his anger was coming from and also expel some of his energy”. The therapist then focused on normalising Reece’s feelings and teaching him strategies for managing his anger without harmful acts of self-destruction.

Reece credits these strategies for being responsible for a 95% increase in his mood; “Ever since I’ve came here it’s been easier. I’ve calmed down so much. When I leave, I am like that has really helped with my anger.” Tom also saw a big difference: “Before a day wouldn’t go by without the school calling but the past 6-8 months it’s happened much less. He’s a lot more measured in how he reacts.”

Find Out More

Find out more about Empire Fighting Chance’s amazing work