Carney’s Community, based in Battersea, London is a charity that uses a combination of group and one to one work to support some of the local community’s most disadvantaged groups. They do this by offering free boxing fitness sessions, alongside their core long term, intensive and unconditional one to one support with the aim of reducing offending, improving physical and emotional health and bridging the social divide, which is common in today’s society.
A donation from ICAP Charity Day 2019 was dedicated to the Boxing, Bikes, Food and Family Project, where Carney’s provide free access to boxing training, bike workshops and healthy, nutritious meals alongside mentoring and key work support. This is an ongoing project and there were clear plans on how it would run. However, when the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, Carney’s needed to be creative in their delivery.
As soon as the first UK lockdown was announced in March 2020, Carney’s moved the boxing and bike sessions online, with daily workouts and challenges on Instagram and virtual boxing sessions on Instagram live. Initially they were delivered by coaches, but Carney’s also recruited some of their participants to feature in the videos, which had a huge impact on their self-esteem and confidence.
In a year of uncertainty and upheaval it was a huge support to have got the donation from ICAP. It not only allowed us to continue providing support to those most in need, it also meant we were able to be flexible in our delivery, so we were able to transfer to things like virtual training as soon as restrictions came in. Without the donation from ICAP we would undoubtedly have struggled to continue to provide the long term, consistent and unconditional support that is at the core of everything we do.George Turner, CEO of Carney's Community
Mentoring and family support was also moved online, which was not ideal, but Carney’s used this opportunity to get many of the families laptops and tablets, that had been donated, so they could take part. Carney’s were aware that some people still needed that face to face support, and as they could no longer provide a healthy meal after the face to face sessions, they set up food parcel deliveries. This meant being able to deliver food to those most in need, and they took that opportunity to have face to face interaction in the process. This was done with the help of some of their ex-participants, who helped to pack and deliver food parcels. These ex-participants became so involved with this aspect of the project, the police contacted Carney’s to raise a concern that known “ex-gang members” were seen in and around their centre. Carney’s were able to inform the police that these young people, who had been previously associated with negative behaviour, were in fact volunteering to help their local community.
Carneys will always have their hand out to everyone and that made me want to come here more. The other youth clubs I went to were alright, but I like coming here because of boxing and it is very welcomingCarney's Community Participant
Carneys helped me find a job this year – this helped my CV and I’ve started earning money which has helped me to start saving and look forward to the future. I hope to save money to buy a houseCarney's Community Participant
The energy of all involved was so positive, that Carney’s were contacted by UK Rap Artist Stormzy, who visited the centre to help with packing food parcels and to meet some of their participants. Based on feedback that some families were unsure on how to cook some of the ingredients in the food parcels, Carney’s set up weekly virtual cooking lessons with their chef to teach participants how to make healthy meals.
Mentoring support carried on throughout the pandemic, and was needed more than ever following George Floyd’s death and was stepped up a level during the Black Lives Matters movement. It was essential to provide more support at this time and to help give a voice to the young people who felt impacted by it.
The reduction in the number of people able to engage in group activities meant the need to focus more on one to one support, where they worked on personal development, education, employment and reducing offending and anti-social behaviour. Carney’s are extremely proud to say that in a time where employment opportunities were cut drastically, they have helped 15 participants into employment, their virtual sessions were viewed by 19,900 people and they have given out over 6,000 free meals.