A community gym and boxing club in Halifax, West Yorkshire, is back in action after funding from a housing association charity helped secure its future.
Professional boxers from across Yorkshire joined Holly Lynch MP for the re-opening of the Halifax Boxing, Sports & Fitness Club following a £186,000 refurbishment (main image).
Brothers Jamie and Gavin McDonnell were among the former champions who joined Lynch at the club, which received funding from charity Newground Together, part of Together Housing Group; Sport England; SUEZ; and Community Foundation for Calderdale.
The community gym is the only Clubmark and Amateur Boxing Association of England accredited boxing club in Calderdale, and one of only three in Yorkshire. It is located at Ladyship Mills, which was built in the 1920s, but the building had fallen into disrepair.
“The lack of changing and showering facilities and disabled toilets was a big barrier, particularly to older people and those with medical issues,” said Mick Rowe, the club’s head coach.
“The refurbishment will not only enhance the experience for our regulars but also hopefully attract new and more diverse members, including groups that are typically hard to reach or excluded from leisure provision, such as young people at risk of offending and those not in education, training or employment. The improved facilities will also enable us to host regional and national events, which could open doors for our most talented youngsters.”
The refurbishment is part of Newground Together’s ongoing commitment to the club after it provided a grant to fund the recruitment of a community development officer.
The role has helped the club reach out to disadvantaged groups, it says, creating links with Calderdale Council’s Specialist Inclusion Team and Ravenscliffe Sports Academy. The club has also developed a partnership with Reachout Pellon, Newground’s own youth and community project, as well as forging links with the police and fire service.
Income generated from increased membership as a result of the gym’s makeover will be reinvested to sustain the ongoing programme of community development work. This includes alternative education, social opportunities, sport and recreation, disability support and community safety initiatives.
“Sports such as boxing are a great way to boost young people’s self-esteem by giving young people a vehicle for channelling their energy and giving them something positive to do,” said Peter Jordan, director at Newground Together.
“For kids lacking positive role models, boxing is a great way of instilling respect for themselves and other people. They look up to their coaches who are can direct them without appearing confrontational, as a parent I know that’s not always easy. They also see local lads like Josh Warrington succeed and it is a massive inspiration.”
Halifax MP Lynch added: “The club is located at the heart of close-knit community, but one which has its challenges, with poor health and low employment being two particular concerns. The improved facilities at the club will enable young people and adults in the area to participate in health and fitness in an inclusive environment, and the additional income from increased membership will also allow the club to offer apprentice and volunteer training opportunities.”