Boxing champion's foundation bid to help Doncaster youngsters

Doncaster's World Boxing champion is turning helping Doncaster's youngsters into his next big fight.

Thursday, 1st February 2018, 6:58 am
Updated Thursday, 1st February 2018, 7:05 am
Tom Gilbert, Jamie McDonnell Foundation co-ordinator and Jamie McDonnell, pictured at the Doncaster Free Press Youth Services Round Table event held at The Dome. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP Round Table MC 2

As part of a panel of 11 people at the Dome taking part in out latest Doncaster Free Press Round Table, Jamie McDonnell reveals in part two of the report that he is setting up a foundation to help Doncaster youngsters through boxing clubs.

The panel was: Ed Miliband, Doncaster North MP; John Whiteley, Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust; Andy Hood, Doncaster Children's Services Trust; Phil Bedford, Stainforth Town Councillor; Peter Norman, Expect Youth; Tony Sockett, former Doncaster Council youth work manager, Sally Lockey, Right Up Your Street arts worker; Riana Nelson, Doncaster Council assistant director for youth delivery; Mark Turner, Flying Future; Jamie McDonnell, world boxing champion; Tom Gilbert, Jamie McDonnell Foundation.

How can we get youth centres back into Doncaster's communities?

TG: Jamie and the foundation are targeting physical boxing clubs. They are already there and open every night of the week, We're looking to target three. There are probably 12 in Doncaster. Kids are in there and engaged but they are the best kept secret in Doncasster. This work is going on so the work we're going to do with Jamie is to highlight these places and start signposting young people into them. Jamie's going to use his brand and his name and try to start engaging with them that way.

PB: That's fantastic.We've just had our boxing club closing down and it would be great to have you guys come back in. If you've got the problem of bravado and physical aggression from young men, the boxing club was an outlet for that which taught respect and discipline. I strongly believe in boxing clubs and I think its a great way to harness that and direct it and when you talk about aspiration and look at Jamie McDonnell, you look at towns like ours and there are people who act tough as they've got nothing. The boxing club coming back to Stainforth would be seen as a major move forward..

JM: I have my foundation and maybe we could open that back up. In Stainforth, they can walk there. I used to go to one in Lindholme, and I had to have my parents take me. You need them in villages and in that one there you could take your bike there. At the moment I'm concentrating on my foundation. Maybe in a years time we could look at it in Stainforth.

JW: There has been a lot of collaboration on projects: An example that I think works really well is in Rossington where it was politically led by the council getting involved. You have the parish council, miners welfare, sports club, the faith sector, joint publicity and a co-ordinated programme. with a diverse range of activities and partners. That is a great model. You've got community-based assets, outreach, estate base, and it's all co-ordinated and I think one of the key things is its developed in consultation with young people.

SL: That's what we're looking to develop with Right Up Our Street. We want to go to places with deprivation and look at using our community groups to work with youth clubs to set up young representatives within those communities to help plan a programme of activities, so that they get a sense of ownership.

AH: A year ago the Epic team deployed in Stainforth used street based activity with people to divert from antisocial behaviour. After six months there was a 27 per cent reduction in youth ASB. If we go and nothing replaces it and there is no legacy then the community falls back but it didn't because Flying Futures stepped in through a programme, coupled with partnership from Expect Youth, that made sure that there was a legacy.

PB: That did happen, Flying Futures are carrying it on and I've just been informed that we've had a very quiet Christmas holidays from the PCSOs. It does look like it's working, but confidence in this sort of provision in Stainforth is rock bottom.

AH: There should be a high expectation from the communities. If we're starting to win that trust we've got to build on it. We've also got to get better with at connecting with young people with the mediums they use.

PB: When you did consultation they said they wanted Wifi everywhere. We may see that as being antisocial, that they should be talking and doing things, but they're actually social with the wi-fi. They'll be showing each other things. I think another important thing is we've got to stop doing top down, deciding what's right for them and trying to convince them to do it. You got to find out, as you have been doing, what they want and then provide what they want.

JW: We should get them involved in delivering it too.

EM: In my experience of being an MP, there has been great youth provision, but some of it has missed the mark because it has not been what the young people wanted, it's been what older people thought young people should want. and young people are turned

RN: Individual partners have their ways of engaging with young people. I think for us, when we started 18 months ago, we started it with consultation with young people across the borough, and got feedback that s they wanted a place that's safe, where they could talk to their friends. They want to have fun and we continue to engage with them through youth council, and other forums. We're now going back out to speak to them again to see if they can feel a difference and feed that back to Expect Youth.

JW: Using Rossington as an example again, there was one young man who came through our alternative education programme who lives in the community and has peer relationships with everyone. He went out on the street and got these young people engaged on everything. He also led on it. He is a bit of a figurehead and he's delivering programmes and shaping them, but he's on the streets as well, as like he said, he used to be a street kid..

EM: Is there a way of giving young people control of the budgets? That has been an experience in other places that has worked.

RN: One of our ambitions is that is not just social engagement, but also social action, social enterprise, helping young people to do things that they're really keen on. There is a small cafe in one of the family hubs run by volunteer mums etcetera, set up as a social enterprise. We need to engage young people in those kind of things.

AH: We have a group of young advisors who have a say in how the organisation is run. It changes the culture of the organisation.

RN: We've got a very active youth council and youth parliament. We have got much better at this. But it is mainly focused on older children So just this week we are looking at having a young civic mayor a year six pupil who we'd identify through an election process who will be our young mayor.

PB: You want them to become empowered and start telling you to do this or that, rather than just as a sounding board to rubber stamp it.

MT: Lets not forget groups like scouts, football clubs, boxing clubs. That represents a lot of work in the communities as well.

TS: Austerity measures are not new. In its heyday, we had 38 local authority youth clubs. There has been no Government impetus on youth services since the 60s. with the exception of when Labour inspired the development of 21st century youth centres. Youth centres provide a central facility and a universal service. The thing that is positive about today is that there people out there who acknowledge we are at the bottom of the pendulum swing, but we are on the way up. It will be done differently to how it was 50 years ago. What is good is that we have people with the courage to do things and to do them well.

MT: Volunteers are fantastic but often patience runs out as they're putting in lots of time and energy but don't know who cares.

TG: You get people who are full tilt running activities but don't know where to get guidance on funding and managing it.

PB: You can't expect a boxing coaching expert to also be a business expert and write successful bids for lottery money. These are specialised skills. Volunteers also have jobs during the day. We need an organisation above them who can go to them and say right, what do you need and write bids for them.

PN: That's what we do. We have a business development group. We look at funding opportunities that have been published. If some gets through our quality mark programme they become an associate member of Expect Youth. It's like a carrott and a stick. We want to get you through the quality mark programme to make sure things are safe, and then to showyou the world of opportunities, Of of our partners is the chamber of commerce, who run free programmes for people interested in business, and they'll support you as well. We'll find funding oppoutunities, and complete the bid for you as you're one of our members.

If you want to set up a youth group, contact Expect Youth on 01302 764 663 or email