Our Year of Scale – Transforming lives across the UK

One year of scale

2023 has seen a step change in our efforts to scale our impact. More boxing clubs and other organisations have joined the Empire movement, thousands more young people have been supported and hundreds of thousands of pounds has been generated to transform communities up and down the country.

27 boxing clubs reaching 8,000 young people

It has been two years since we first started working with England Boxing to recruit boxing clubs who could deliver our work in their communities. We have been training and supporting clubs to deliver our flagship programme Box Champions. This year we reached an amazing milestone of training our 27th boxing club. The network of clubs supported nearly 8,000 young people during the year.

Over the past 12 months we strengthened how we select boxing clubs and developed a more strategic and personalised approach to the ongoing support that clubs receive. This has resulted in some excellent results. For example, Boxing Clever in Milton Keynes reported that 83% of young people improved their emotional regulation and 81% have a more positive outlook.

Dinnington Community Boxing (Rotherham) and their Empire journey

DC Boxing were founded in 2019 as a boxing club dedicated to improving the physical and mental wellbeing of its local community of Dinnington in Rotherham. The club started out by delivering boxing sessions for young people from their community and gradually grew their work.

At the start of 2023 the Head Coach at DC Boxing, Ian Huddleston, contacted us to explore whether we could support them to scale their work. In March Ian joined other clubs at our two-day orientation programme at the Empire Gym. The clubs learnt about all aspects of our organisation, from our programmes and operations to school sales and monitoring and evaluation.

After the training, DC Boxing worked with the Empire team to develop a proposal to deliver work in their local secondary school. The school accepted the proposal and DC Boxing piloted their adaptation of Empire’s Box Champions programme. The club worked hard to measure the impact it had on students and created an impact report to celebrate this. This led to other schools requesting their services. DC Boxing now works in four local schools, all of which pay for their services.

We visited DC Boxing in November and it was clear to see the impact that the club was having on their community. The club now has three full time coaches delivering sessions in schools and for the community. The club supported over 600 young people during 2023. The club also managed to secure over £150,000 of funding this year.  

DC boxing has ambitious plans for the future and aims to become the main community hub in Dinnington. Their team visited Empire in September to work on a strategic plan for the next 12 months. Among other things, the club plan to move into an larger space by turning an old bowls club into a new boxing gym so they can support hundreds more young people in their community.

Enriching our movement

Our work is ripe for use by all kinds of organisation working with young people in their community. This year we stepped up our efforts to share our work with community sports organisations, youth organisations and youth justice services. By the end of this year, we were working with eight sports and youth organisations and two youth justice services. Organisations and programmes who attended our training this year include Youth Employment Support Hub (Nelson), Lancashire Youth Challenge (Lancaster), Communities Team (Accrington) and Marsden Heights school (Brierfield). These came to Empire through our new partnership with Active Lancashire.

Ambitions for 2024

We aim to strengthen our movement by partnering with a further 10 boxing clubs and improving the ongoing support that we offer. Priorities include supporting our partners to become better at measuring their impact and developing a library of videos that share Empire’s psychological principles for healthy thinking and positive action. We will also explore the possibility of bringing our partners together to share ideas and learning, build networks and celebrate success.

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