Club case study: Peterborough Police ABC thrives through its inclusive initiatives
September 30, 2022 | by Chris Boyd
Peterborough Police ABC (PPABC) is located in a community centre in one of the most deprived areas of Peterborough and the UK, Paston. The club is not-for-profit, entirely staffed by unpaid volunteers, and operates within an established, transparent and legally-bound constitution. And yet, it thrives.
The club’s primary aim is to encourage disadvantaged youths, who may be susceptible to criminal influence and offending, away from the streets and into a safe space – PPABC. In order to reach the vulnerable, PPABC actively co-operates with partner agencies; children’s social care, the police, local schools, the probation service, housing providers and more. The club has welcomed youths from all social, cultural and economic backgrounds since 2013 and continues to show that the club is blind to prejudice, no one is exempt from their gym – all are welcome. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the club has also undertaken community initiatives such as female-only boxing fitness classes and disabled outreach programmes.
The club’s female-only boxing fitness sessions commenced in 2013 via the ‘Sportivate’ programme. The objective, initially, was for PPABC to deliver a series of boxing skills and fitness sessions within the local female Asian community. Police Officer and level two England Boxing Coach, Vicki Baker, organised and delivered these sessions within the religious and cultural boundaries required. They were always fully attended, and the programme was considered to be a huge success when it came to a close. The local female community, however, refused to let it end. As a result, in 2017, Vicki chose to continue with weekly female boxing classes solely as a PPABC initiative. The weekly female class continues to run today and maintains a full membership of 25 ladies while having a waiting list of women wanting to join.
Members of that class have called the sessions, a “safe place for everyone”, their “favourite night of the week” and “the best thing they’ve done in a long time.” The importance of that is not lost on Baker, “It’s such a privilege to play a big part in positively impacting people’s lives. I meet so many great people and have found the experience to be amazing.”
Remarkably, given its size, the local demographics and the challenges faced by some of the club boxers, PPABC is a successful club in its own right. In its recent history, the club boasts an open class cadet junior national champion, a female development junior finalist, eight regional champions, three MTK box cup champions and two MTK box cup belts, amongst other notable regional and national achievements.
The winning of medals and belts is a great source of pride for any club, yet the positive impact that PPABC’s community initiatives have are a true shining light for them.
Female-only fitness sessions have yielded tremendous results. These sessions have encouraged females of all ages within the local community to access and participate in a sport which has traditionally been difficult to break into. As a result, the ladies reap the physical and mental benefits of boxing: fitness, resilience and confidence. Social interaction has also resulted in deep and long-lasting friendships. These sessions have also been an exemplar of female mentoring within the sport and encouraged female boxing coaching. Recently, a 17-year-old PPABC female boxer successfully completed the England Boxing Level One course. In doing so, it has made her one of the youngest qualified female EB coaches in the country.
PPABC isn’t just making a difference to its female members, though. Prior to the COVID pandemic, the club provided boxing insight days within the local community for those youths and adults with disabilities and Special Educational Needs (SEN). Following these activities, in 2018, Vicki was approached by a physio to consider a referral for a young man with cerebral palsy. The referral was to involve all aspects of boxing training to alleviate the symptoms of cerebral palsy and to limit, where possible, the occurrence of commonly associated complications. Vicki agreed to undertake a weekly one-on-one boxing training session with the young man and continues to do so today.
Those sessions have brought about physical and mental health benefits to the young man, ‘T’ (pictured right) involved. However, crucially, it has also brought additional benefits in alleviating some of ‘T’s’ ongoing symptoms.
‘T’s’ physio, ‘S’, echoed the sentiment, saying that “every session is different. Boxing helps ‘T’ with coordination, body awareness, physical fitness and mental health. The sport has been absolutely amazing and has transformed ‘T’ view of life, improved his confidence, his strength and his enthusiasm”.
‘T’ also stated that he really enjoys his boxing with Vicki. He finds it as a way of de-stressing from everyday life and it allows him to get his anger and frustrations out.
PPABC’s success is so, that it has a waiting list for every class that it puts on. Unfortunately, the club does not have the physical space or the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the demand it has so impressively grown. Therefore, the next objective for PPABC is to expand the club facilities in order to accommodate the large number of individuals waiting to get in.
Until such a time that the objective is realised, there is no doubt that the club will continue its astonishing commitment to delivering boxing fitness and training sessions, to its diverse membership and the local community.
To find out more about Peterborough Police ABC, follow them on Facebook by clicking here.