Empire Fighting Chance, a charity that uses boxing to realise the potential of disadvantaged young people across Bristol, has become the latest community sport group to benefit from a joint funding initiative between Sported and The Supporters Club – BT Sport’s charitable initiative that aims to build a better world by bringing people together through sport.
Empire Fighting Chance has secured a substantial joint grant to fund the group’s new One to One Mentoring and Education programme. The St Paul’s-based charity aims to create champions inside and outside of the ring by using the sport of boxing to help young people stay clear of crime and violence, and progress in education and employment.
Empire Fighting Chance’s new One to One Mentoring and Education programme, being funded by Sported and The Supporters Club, will focus specifically on helping young people, who have been or are at a high risk of being excluded from mainstream education, progress to education and/or employment. The charity will offer 36 young people on the programme a mixture of one-to-one mentoring, group sessions and boxing coaching – all activities will focus on their personal development. Uniquely, all of the young people that come through the programme will be offered the chance to do the level-one ABA boxing coaching award and attend specific mentoring training. In doing so, the programme hopes to become sustainable with the young people becoming peer mentors and coaches themselves.
The One to One Mentoring programme and, indeed, all of Empire Fighting Chance’s work is based on the organisation’s theory of change that asserts a young person’s behaviour, situation and the choices they make are dependent on the way they see themselves, how they relate to others and how they see their future.
Earlier this year, The Supporters Club approved a grant to Sported enabling it to fund sporting and personal development activities at 10 of its member clubs around the UK. The Supporters Club has raised over £3 million from BT Sport customers and BT since launching in June 2013. This has so far been used to fund 18 sport-inspired community projects – ten in the UK and eight overseas, with over 89,000 people now signed up to the initiative. To donate, BT Sport customers can simply add £1, £3 or £5 to their monthly bill.*
In addition to funding, Sported has also been supporting Empire Fighting Chance through one of its volunteer business mentors. Bristol resident and Junior Chairman of Bristol Sonics Rugby League club, Stafford Lloyd, has been working closely with founders Martin Bisp and Jamie Sanigar for the last six months on strengthening the operational side of the charity on such things as developing strategic plans and grant applications.
As part of the club’s broader development objective of becoming a sports-led social hub where all the needs of the community are met, Martin Bisp and Jamie Sanigar will also be partnering with Sported to share their experience and advice with other local boxing clubs members with the aim of increasing boxing provisions for young people across the whole of the South West region.
Martin Bisp, Co-Founder of Empire Fighting Chance, said: “A huge thanks to Sported and The Supporters Club for showing their belief in Empire Fighting Chance and helping us to get our One to One Mentoring and Education programme off the ground. The funding is going to make a massive difference to some of the most vulnerable young people in the Bristol area and will lay the foundations for the sustainability of the programme for many years to come.”
Hannah Colston, South West Regional Manager at Sported, said: “Both myself and Sported business mentor, Stafford Lloyd, have been blown away by the passion and hard work of Martin, Jamie and all the volunteers of Empire Fighting Chance. The club has developed a highly effective engagement model and has been responsible for transforming hundreds of lives through sport, which not only benefits the young people themselves, but also their families and the wider community as a whole. Sported is extremely proud to support Empire and wish them the best of luck for the future.”
David Rowley, head of The Supporters Club, said: “Since our launch in 2013, The Supporters Club has quickly proved it is a unique force for good, helping to build a better world through sport for young people and many sporting initiatives. It is a compelling squad: combining the support and donations of BT Sport customers with the reach of BT Sport on TV, added to the expertise of Comic Relief. We’re delighted to further extend our tie-up with Sported in Bristol.”