Boxing clever Tackling anti-social behaviour is not all about by dfsdf224s


									                Quinton Village Hall is a hive of activity.                          This may not be the way that most landlords choose to                                     focus and they now feel proud to live in the area, and that
                   Around 20 youngsters are gathered around the boxing            deal with anti-social behaviour. But Swale was persuaded        After what seems             wasn’t there before.
                ring in the middle of the room, eagerly awaiting the chance
                to trade punches with each other.
                                                                                  that a boxing club could be the answer after a community
                                                                                  survey identified an alarming lack of activities for young
                                                                                                                                                  like an eternity,               ‘We’ve still got a way to go, there are other things that
                                                                                                                                                                               we need to be doing in that area, but we’re getting there.
                   A cluster of nervous-looking parents are standing on           people living on the estates of Quinton in Sittingbourne,       the referee finally          The best thing is that we’ve actually engaged with the local
                the sidelines. And in the corner of the ring instructor Gary
                Thelwell is telling me that I won’t sustain any injuries while
                                                                                  Kent, an area which was experiencing high levels of
                                                                                  vandalism and theft.
                                                                                                                                                  calls time and I             community. By engaging with the kids now a lot of the
                                                                                                                                                                               parents have come on board and are helping out.’
                calmly strapping on my head mask and handing me a gum                Eileen Martin, Swale’s area housing manager for              slump back into                 The club offers a tough training regime but Ms Martin
                   Welcome to Swale Housing Association’s fight back
                                                                                  Sittingbourne, explains: ‘Quinton is quite a close-knit
                                                                                  community but it’s also quite isolated and not close to any
                                                                                                                                                  my corner, tired             says it is this approach that has resulted in a high level of
                                                                                                                                                                               commitment from the members. It is a point that is borne
                against anti-social behaviour.                                    amenities. What that means for the kids down there is that      and breathless               out by many of the 20 or so youngsters who attend the club
                   ‘You won’t get hurt, I promise,’ says Mr Thelwell. ‘We’ll
                go for three rounds to start with but if you feel like you want
                                                                                  they don’t really have very much to do. It’s an estate with
                                                                                  nothing on it and that’s what was causing the problems.
                                                                                                                                                  but still, just              on a regular basis.
                                                                                                                                                                                  ‘I’ve been doing it for about two months and it’s really
                to stop before that then let me know. OK? Right, now touch           ‘We had a wide range of children around there who            about, in one                hard training, quite brutal, but I want to keep doing it as I
                gloves and start sparring.’
                   Other than bringing a pair of shorts and watching
                                                                                  were carrying out anti-social behaviour which was
                                                                                  starting to escalate beyond all control. We had cars being
                                                                                                                                                  piece                        know I’m getting better,’ says one.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Another says: ‘My aunt told me about this when it
                Amir Khan on television, I have not done a great deal of          vandalised, phone boxes being damaged, graffiti, lots                                        started but I was 11 then so I couldn’t join. But then about
                preparation for this assignment. But Mr Thelwell is not           of rubbish being dumped, even a couple of petrol bomb                                        four months after it was my birthday so I was able to join.
                accepting any excuses and is clearly not prepared to give         attacks. Things had really got quite bad.                                                    I’ve been doing it for about a month now and I find it really
                me an easy ride.                                                     ‘We decided to look at what we could do to use up some                                    good because it’s something I’ve really wanted to do.
                                                                                  of the energy that was out there. We could see that we                                          ‘When I first came here they trained me up then put me
                No pain no gain                                                   needed to find something for the kids to do, we could see                                    in the ring to check how good I was and then worked me
                Already this evening I have endured an energy-sapping             that they were getting in to mischief.                                                       up from that level. I’m definitely getting better because the
                two mile training run. This was immediately followed by a            ‘So together with the police we carried out a couple of                                   last person that I sparred with, we drew blood from each
                punishing regime of sit-ups and stomach crunches which            door-to-door surveys. We surveyed every household to                                         other, and we weren’t even going hard. If you go in there
                has left me exhausted and with beads of sweat dripping            speak to the adults and then we carried out a youth survey                                   you can’t hang about, you have to watch out for yourself.’
                down my face.                                                     as well. We heard what the adults thought the problems                                          He says that the scheme is well known by many of his
                   Now I am in the boxing ring, face to face with Aaron           were, then we asked the children what sort of things they                                    contemporaries, although some of them have fallen by
                Newby, my more experienced but teenage opponent.                  would like to see.’                                                                          the wayside because they were not able to cope with the
                We touch gloves and I quickly find myself on the receiving           The youngsters responded by saying they wanted a                                          rigorous training it demands.
                end of a series of right hooks, knocking me off balance           boxing club and the housing association raised funds of                                         ‘Most people know about it because at school we’re
                and causing me to stagger into the corner before I regain         £10,000 to make the idea a reality. The club for kids of 12                                  doing a project on sport and all the boys have done boxing.
                my composure, turn around and go through the whole                and up was officially opened earlier this year by former                                     Lots of people are doing it and some of them did go but they
                process again.                                                    boxing champions Barry McGuigan and Micky Cantwell.                                          dropped out because they couldn’t take all the training.’
                   In between this barrage of blows I somehow manage              Now firmly established in the local community, the club                                         Clearly it is a scheme which has captured the enthusiasm
                to get a few punches of my own in but as the seconds tick         meets twice a week and caters for 20 members.                                                of many of the youngsters on Quinton’s estates, even if not
                by my energy levels are plummeting. Against my better                Ms Martin says that it has been a huge success in tackling                                all of them have managed to stick with it. And many of the
                judgement, I agree to a third and final round by which            the anti-social behaviour that was blighting the area.                                       members admit that the project may also be keeping them
                point the contest is clearly a very one-sided affair and self-       ‘The problems have not gone away but they have been                                       on the straight and narrow.
                defence has become my main objective. After what seems            reduced significantly because previously the kids were                                          ‘I’ve been doing it since it started,’ says one of the older
                like an eternity, the referee finally calls time and I slump      congregating on the streets and intimidating residents                                       members of the group. ‘If I wasn’t doing it I’d probably be
                back in to my corner, tired and breathless but still, just        but now they are all integrated and they’ve all got a                                        out on the streets with my mates getting into trouble.’
                about, in one piece.                                              common goal,’ she says. ‘It’s given them a common

                Tackling anti-social behaviour is not all about ASBOs
                as an estate boxing club for teenagers proves.
                David ‘could’ve been a contender’ Singleton gets tough
                                                                                                                                                                                Boxing clever

                                                                                                                                                                               Any organisation that            have a changing area
                                                                                                                                                                               wants to set up a boxing         that is separated from
                                                                                                                                                                               club is free to do so – as       the gymnasium, access
                                                                                                                                                                               long as it conforms to           to washing or shower
                                                                                                                                                                               basic rules set out by           facilities and a toilet,
                                                                                                                                                                               the Amateur Boxing               space for exercise,
                                                                                                                                                                               Association.                     adequate lighting,
                                                                                                                                                                                   The rules seek to            heating and ventilation
                                                                                                                                                                               ensure that club meetings        and preferably a sparring
                                                                                                                                                                               take place in suitable           ring. In terms of health
                                                                                                                                                                               premises and that the            and safety you need fire

                                                                                                                                                                               coaches have a suitable          exits and fire extinguisher
                                                                                                                                                                               level of experience.             and a qualified first aider.
                                                                                                                                                                                   Alan Beech, chief coach          ‘These are the basic
                                                                                                                                                                               at the Quinton club, says:       things that you need for
                                                                                                                                                                               ‘Anybody can set up a club       the premises and the
                                                                                                                                                                               – you can set up a club          overall programme has
                                                                                                                                                  Top: Charlie Conway          in a pub – but there are         to be under the guidance
                                                                                                                                                  corners fellow club          certain rules that are set       of at least two qualified
                                                                                                                                                  member Danny Cleaver.        by the Amatuer Boxing            coaches. You need all
                                                                                                                                                  David Singleton limbers up   Association.                     of these before you can

                                                                                                                                                  (left) before taking on          ‘With regard to the          affiliate to the Amateur
                                                                                                                                                  Aaron Newby in the ring      premises you should              Boxing Association.’
                34 Inside Housing 24 September 2004                                                                                                                                                    24 September 2004 Inside Housing 35

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