Police and Crime Commissioner visits Birmingham club

August 14, 2019 | by Matt Halfpenny


West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has dropped into the Pat Benson Boxing Academy in Birmingham to see first-hand the outstanding work that has been going on with the delivery of it summer programme.

Part funded by the Officed of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), the project has been set up to offer diversionary activities to young people in the city during the school holidays.

Running every day from Monday to Friday, it has been a huge success with up to 45 youngsters attending the activities daily.

“We approached the Office of Police & Crimes Commissioner earlier this year with a view to providing facilities and activities for young people throughout the summer break,” said the club’s Paddy Benson.

“The PCC were impressed with the idea and backed it with a cash investment of £9,860 to ensure the programme could get up and running.”

Mr Jamieson, who was elected in 2014 as Commissioner for the West Midlands, added: “It is wonderful to see so many young people engaging with each other and with the other service users here at Pat Benson Boxing Academy.

“It is very important that we continue to work with groups like the boxing club to be able to provide these diversionary activities for the younger generation.

“These services offer fantastic opportunities for them to gather and enjoy social time together in a safe and secure environment. The work being carried out here is very impressive and long may it continue.”

Along with the summer initiative, Pat Benson is also leading the way with an innovative programme designed to combat knife crime which has been supported by Sport England.

PBBA coach, Bradley Savage, explained a little bit about the project, which is being mirrored in other English towns and cities, including Liverpool, Manchester, London, Sheffield and Huddersfield.

We are living in a city where knife crime is a major issue” he said.

“We were approached by England Boxing Club Support Officer Mick Maguire, who enquired if we could work together on arranging a programme to combat the knife crime epidemic – and we were only too happy to get on board as we had been exploring avenues to work within this area previously.

“We sat down together and talked about the ways in which we could help and planned the delivery of a programme of activity that is about bringing the young people together and building relationships based on trust and respect.

“Sport England considered the programme and liked it so were only too happy to assist in funding it with an awards for all grant.  Boxing is a great way of instilling these values into our youths and very soon you can see where they start to support each other and display more positive behaviours all around.

“The programme is running through the summer period and we will be using it as a platform to potentially deliver bigger initiatives surrounding the tackling of knife crime later in the year.”

Fellow PBBA member of staff Cianan Folan, who is managing the summer programme, having himself boxed for the club for several years before becoming a full-time member of staff.

He said: “We are really privileged to be able to offer these activities to the community and in particular to this age group.

“The staff we have here are magnificent and they have created a real feel good atmosphere along with all the people attending throughout the summer.

“We are working in quite often challenging situations but the emphasis is always on ensuring that everyone involved goes away having enjoyed their time with us.

We are working in partnership with the PCC, Sport England, England Boxing and many other organisations to keep providing as wide a variety of projects as is possible and see our role as being a vital community hub and we will continue to seek a ways to grow our services and offer even more opportunities to the people of Birmingham.”