George Turner is the Co-Founder of Carney’s Community, a Lambeth and Wandsworth based charity that uses boxing combined with one-to-one mentoring to realise the potential of disadvantaged young people that suffer from crime and violence.
Carney’s Community is a member of sporteducate, a programme designed by Sported and Deutsche Bank to help young people to gain specific educational and employability outcomes through sport. As part of the programme, Deutsche Bank staff member Alison Watkins has joined Carney’s Community as its new Treasurer.
Why did you decide to join the Sporteducate programme?
“We thought Sporteducate would be the perfect fit for us because we were already doing lots of sport, specifically boxing, and a key focus for us is getting disadvantaged young people back into employment and education. We focus a lot on one-to-one mentoring and will adapt the level of support based entirely on what the young person’s needs are.
Sporteducate is a three year programme, so that’s really beneficial for us because we work with some prolific offenders over an extended period of time.”
How central is sport to the success of the programme?
“Some young people will engage with us without the sports, but the real focus for us is using the boxing sessions as the hook.
The idea is that we get them involved through the boxing sessions, build a relationship and then start to do some mentoring with them. We get our mentors to come down and take part in the boxing sessions with the young people so that they can start to build a relationship with them. From there they can continue that relationship outside the boxing club in other areas of their lives.”
What difference has Deutsche Bank volunteer Alison Watkins made since joining as Treasurer?
“Alison has made a bigger impact than pretty much anyone else involved. She’s been brilliant. She has helped with loads of things and gone over-and-above what we would expect, especially as a Treasurer.
The first thing Alison did was sort out our accounts – she arranged it properly and is helping us to get them audited. The biggest thing for me is that I now feel much more comfortable dealing with the accounts, as I know I’ve got someone I can call or email and she will let me know if I’m doing it right or wrong.
She has also helped with fundraising and done sponsored events she has set up herself. She has taken over our correspondence with the Charity Commission and Companies House. She has attended funding workshops and events with us, helped out with funding applications and offered support with every project that we have got involved with, not just Sporteducate.
She is really reliable and on-it. You know if you send her something to do it will get done. I’m constantly worried that we are taking advantage of her because she does loads for us! She is without doubt the best thing for us with regards to Sporteducate programme. I don’t think we would be in the position we are now in if we didn’t have Ali on board.”
Why is this type of volunteering so important?
“We really struggle to get support on the business-support side of things. Everyone wants to come and help out with the boxing sessions. We get loads of volunteers that want to do the ‘fun stuff’ and we also get quite a few that want to come out and do the mentoring. But we haven’t had anyone other than Ali that has been able to come out and help with the work behind the scenes. That’s one of the main reasons why she has been so brilliant. She not focused just on meeting the young people; she’s focused on the jobs that don’t get the credit they deserve!”
What characteristics do potential volunteers to community clubs, such as Carney’s, need to have?
“Firstly, for us, they have got to have a passion for disadvantaged young people. They have to be in it for the right reasons, not because they want to do volunteering to get it on their CV. They have got to be interested in what it is that we are doing.
Where we have struggled in the past with volunteers is consistency. Because it is done on a voluntary basis, some feel that they don’t have to be as consistent as they would if they were paid members of staff. Working with the young people that we work with, consistency is key.
They have to have good communication skills and be able to deal with Trustees, young people, funders and everyone else we work with. We have people of every walk of life involved with the charity, so being able to communicate properly with them is essential.
Flexibility is another big one – being able to turn up to things as and when they occur – also being willing to learn. We have had some people turn up thinking they know it all and they don’t. Then we’ve had other people come in like Ali, who ask questions which is good because she is genuinely interested in what works best and how she can help out.”