Sport England’s Together Fund: Sanctus Fitness & Boxing Gym

August 11, 2023 | by Chris Boyd


Sanctus Fitness & Boxing Gym has utilised their Sport England Together Funding to launch community-based boxing sessions that aid female participation and mindfulness.

To achieve this, the club has found itself working closely with the local police, local schools and women’s aid.

Shane Thewlis, head coach at Bradford-based Sanctus, is delighted to witness the positive impact the project has had on the local community in the city.

“We have had a very successful campaign with our community-based project which has combined sites in the Bradford and Brighouse areas to raise awareness and confidence amongst women in the region.

“We’re encouraging women to become involved in sport and exercise and we’re using boxing as the vehicle.

“By using the Together Fund, we have been able to educate and upskill two of our female volunteers and promote the positive dynamic of women within sport.”

Whilst the funding has predominantly focused on the promotion of women in sport, Sanctus has also been able to deliver confidence-building classes at local colleges – hosting self-defence and mindfulness classes at Buttershaw Business and Enterprise College, all with the aim of reducing stress and anxiety.

Thewlis continued: “The sessions at Buttershaw have been delivered to promote boxing to girls, particularly in a deprived area of Bradford where students have been identified as having low aspirations for life.

“Many of the children who attended were identified by teachers as being vulnerable and struggling with self-confidence.”

To ensure the project was sustainable, Thewlis put two of the clubs’ more experienced coaches through their England Boxing Level One Coaching Course qualifications, ensuring they were fully equipped to deliver the course. In doing so, it has allowed Sanctus to engage with 90 girls at the college as part of the project, something teacher Kay Holdsworth is grateful for.

“I would like to thank Shane and the team at Sanctus for the ongoing boxing sessions they have delivered to our students.

“We have been so impressed with the professional and disciplined tuition provided, as well as the undeniable progression, commitment and most poignantly, the enjoyment that our students have gained from the experience.

“The college is situated in one of the most deprived areas of Bradford and students are often missing out on opportunities to gain cultural capital and enrichment experiences.

“I especially want to champion the way in which these inclusive sessions have promoted girls to become, not only engaged in sport but a better and more confident version of themselves.

“The school has a high percentage of vulnerable girls and these weekly structured and consistent classes have enabled them to forge trusting relationships, interact with positive male role models and begin to change the perception of how they see their own bodies.”

England Boxing’s Yorkshire Club Support Officer, Alicia Winbolt, said: “It’s amazing to see how the Together Fund has impacted not just the club but so many women and girls in the Brighouse and Bradford area.

“They have not only had the benefits of improving their physical health but also their mental well-being by meeting new people, similar to themselves, and finding a sport/activity they had no interest in before, but they now love.

“The work of Shane and the team at Sanctus is great.”