Police funding for schools work in Wales is making a real impact

P31 Working In Wales

Empire Fighting Chance’s partnership with the PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) in Gwent is going from strength to strength.

Funding is supporting us to deliver non-contact boxing sessions in schools in the Torfaen area, in Cwmbran and Pontypool.

Across five schools since 2022, it has enabled us to work with 98 pupils.

The PCC community fund supports projects that engage with children and young people who may be at risk of becoming involved with crime and antisocial behaviour.

Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “We know that children who miss school regularly are vulnerable to becoming involved with crime and antisocial behaviour.

“Projects such as this are helping to keep children in school while also providing a huge range of benefits in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.”

The schools we are currently working with in Wales include: West Monmouth, Croesyceiliog, St Albans RC, Cwmbran High and Abersychan.

We are running regular Box Champions sessions in Torfaen

Paying a visit to Croesyceiliog School we spoke to teacher Marie Bowen who is the Nurture and Wellbeing Coordinator. She explained: “The group we have that does Box Champions often struggle with their behaviour in school, and can be our most challenging and display negative behaviour during structured and unstructured times.

Many will be truant from lessons, can disengage with their education and with staff, having regular fallouts with students. This can result in regular fixed term exclusion, and end up with internal exclusion,” she added.

The non-contact boxing is, however, having a real impact and supporting pupils to regulate behaviour. She continued: “It’s important for them to be able to display their behaviour in a more positive way. So, a lot of them get quite angry, aren’t able to control and self-regulate.

But with the sessions the students have been able to release their energy in a more positive way. They want to run. They need to act out and sometimes they can't in school, you know, in the middle of classroom or if they're on the corridor, they just can't. So, this is helping them self-regulate and giving a space to do that.

Young people at Croesyceiliog School have been attending non-contact boxing sessions weekly

And I am talking to the students and a few have said that when they feel in fight or flight mode, they just do some shadow boxing or a movement they have learnt from the session to help self soothe them a bit.”

This very much reflected Tyler’s experience. He was one of the participants in the session, saying: “I feel great after. I get to calm myself down, control my anger. I've settled down a lot more and feel generally calmer and am not getting into trouble the whole time as I was before.”

He was training alongside another participant called Shay, and he said he felt, “stressed sometimes in the classroom, so doing this has given me a bit more confidence and that.

It just like relaxes me a bit and that, as exercise is good. I think it’s helping me to concentrate a bit better.”

Tyler and Shay with Empire coach Ollie and Therapist Hannah

The Police Crime Commissioner in Gwent is impressed with the impact our delivery, and said : “The combination of boxing and informal talking therapies delivered by the coaches at Empire Fighting Chance are reinforcing good behaviours, positive attitudes and are helping to develop the young people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Which, I hope, will contribute to these young people having a happy and healthy future.”

Luke Jones, who is the Head of Operations for Empire Fighting Chance, acutely understands the value of coming into to deliver these sessions in schools. He said: “The young people we work with often struggle with traditional classroom learning for a range of different reasons.

We can engage them with the boxing, get them moving about and having fun, and this allows them to relax and open up to us about the issues that are affecting them.

“We have found that young people who may have a history of missing school very rarely miss our sessions, and teachers report back that they are seeing noticeable improvements in behaviour and school work too.”

Empire Fighting Chance are funded to deliver a range of sessions across Gwent

We would like to thank Gwent PCC for their support enabling us to carry out this vital work, and look forward to continuing this partnership.

To find out more about our schools work click here