Celebrating our apprentices

Our apprentice coaches are a vital part of the Empire Fighting Chance team. Having gone through their own struggles, they have a deep understanding of the issues affecting the young people they work with. That's why we're celebrating them this National Apprenticeship Week - and encouraging other employers to give more young people these opportunities.

Our apprentice coaches are a vital part of the Empire Fighting Chance team.

As a charity working with vulnerable young people who often lack job opportunities, we’re thrilled to be able to give paid roles to some of those who come through our innovative mentoring programmes, to support them as they embark on their careers.

But it’s their relatability which is our apprentices’ real strength. Having gone through their own struggles, they have a deep understanding of the issues affecting the young people they work with. And, by sharing their own stories, they build trusted relationships with individuals who may otherwise lack positive role models.

That’s why this National Apprenticeships Week we’re celebrating our own apprentices and their achievements, while encouraging other employers give these opportunities to more young people starting out in their career.

Jen, 17, began her 18-month Level 2 Community Activator Coach apprenticeship at Empire Fighting Chance in 2022. With a passion for sports and a desire to pursue a more vocational career, she jumped at the chance to apply for the apprenticeship.

Since starting, Jen’s confidence has grown hugely, and she uses her own story to inspire the vulnerable individuals she works with at our Bristol gym. She works 26 hours a week at the gym, supporting sessions with young people in our four non-contact boxing programmes. Alongside this, she studies at college for four hours per week to support the qualification.  

Box Careers Coach Chris, who manages the day-to-day work of our apprentices, says “The Empire apprenticeship programme is unique because the apprentices are being trained as boxing coaches as well as how to deal with vulnerable young people. They get hands-on experience, learning from experienced coaches and mentors on how to make a difference in the community.”

When asked what the best thing about the job is, Jen says “I enjoy creating a bond with young people. And all the other coaches are there for me when I need help.” 

The practical ‘skills for life’ that Jen is learning on the job are putting her on the path to her dream career, “My ambition for the future is to still work with young kids, such as in the social care sector. So, this apprenticeship will really help me with getting the career I want.”

Jen thinks more young people should pursue practical apprenticeships, if they are not sure about more academic pathways. She says, “working at Empire has taught me to always be confident in what I do, not to overthink and have faith in my work. I would recommend an apprenticeship at Empire for young people, as it can build you up to be a responsible young adult.”

Kierah, 17, became at apprentice coach at Empire Fighting Chance, on the same course as Jen, after going through the Box Champions programme. Having been bullied at school and experiencing severe depression, Kierah found boxing to be an incredible outlet for her feelings, and credits Empire with transforming her life.

She now shares her own journey, and how she has overcome major challenges, with those she supports at the gym. Relatability can help build trusted relationships, which is one of the ingredients for success of our psychologically informed programmes.

Kierah is confident that the apprenticeship has already given her new skills and opened doors for her, saying, “communication and confidence are the most important skills I have learnt during my apprenticeship, and the opportunities that Empire have already given me have been endless.” Her dream is to one day get a working visa in Australia and continue her coaching career.

Chris believes Jen and Kierah’s presence in the gym makes a big difference, saying, “the apprentices are relatable to those at the gym. They are close in age and are open about personal experiences that the young people are going through themselves – the apprentices are seen as role models.”

Apprentices bring so much to our team, and we hope other organisations are inspired to provide valuable experiences to more young people in Bristol.


To refer a young person to any of Empire Fighting Chance’s programmes, email [email protected]

Apprentice Jen and Careers Coach Chris