‘Fighting Your Corner’; Mental Health Awareness Project accomplishes success


A project which uses boxing as a way to promote positive mental health and well-being among young black and minority ethnic (BAME) males has been celebrated in Cardiff.

With focus on the Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown areas of the city,‘Fighting Your Corner'uses physical activity to engage young people in mental health awareness, providing them with information and support should they be affected by mental illness.

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Delivered by Cardiff Council's Butetown Pavilion Youth Service in partnership with Tiger Bay Amateur Boxing Club and Ajuda Training Service, the Welsh Government funded scheme also provided participants with accredited training to enable them to become Wellbeing Champions. This equips them with the skills required so that they canchampion mental health awareness of other young people in their communities.

Cardiff Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry said: "We know that mental health can affect many young men and it is essential that the right information and support is available to all of our young people living in every one of Cardiff's diverse communities.

"The team at Butetown Youth Pavilion identified that boxing is popular with many of the males from the local community, which presented an opportunity to provide education and awareness of mental health. This is testament to how well the Youth Service team know their service users and highlights the positive outcomes that partnership working can have on a community.

Eighteen young men aged between 14 and 19 of Somali, Yemeni, African and Caribbean heritage took part in the scheme and six of the teenagers graduated as mental health and well-being champions during a ceremony last week, attended by Lord Mayor Councillor Daniel De'Ath.

Cllr Merry added: "Promoting health and wellbeing among our children and young people is priority for Cardiff Council and ensuring our children and young people can access the right services should they experience mental health issues is vital.

"Our Child Friendly Strategy puts children and young people at the heart of the city, and it is essential that we provide the support and services to help young peoplebuild resilience towards issues which affect them.Fighting Your Cornersupports Cardiff's commitment to becoming a UN Child Friendly City and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the success of this project."

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Wasim from Tiger Bay Amateur Boxing Club said: "Boxingrequires people to fully concentrate on the task at hand and in order to box well, individuals need to be able to switch off from the outside world and be 100% focused and present in the moment.

"This has a positive effecton mental health and wellbeing as well as helping withself-confidence, stress relief and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

"In addition,boxing almost always involves more than one person, whether sparring together, doing pair work with the pads or even just holding someone's feet whilst they do sit-ups, more often than not it requires training with others which is a great motivator and provides a means of social support and to reduce feelings of loneliness."

Dawn Evans, Ajuda's founder, said: "We know people who are suffering negative life events, poverty, poor housing, racism, issues with religion or sexuality, or who have escaped from places of conflict are more likely to suffer mental ill health.

"We would be doing these young people a disservice, if we did not acknowledge that individuals and families, with a heritage and links to Somali, Yemeni, African and Caribbean communities, have struggled over time with many of these challenging issues."

Following the success of the project, further funding has been secured and organisers now intend to deliver the course to teenagers and young women in the Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown areas.

Abdo Abdo, Saad Mohamed, Wasem Said (Tiger Bay Boxing Club), Ibby Ahmed.
Dawn Evans (Ajuda) Abdo Abdo, Caroline Miles (Cardiff Council Youth Services) Saad Mohamed, Wasem Said (Tiger Bay Boxing Club), Ibby Ahmed.