Colchester Borough Homes set up Box Smart to make a difference, bringing together organisations and residents for the benefit of the community. The need to address the growing problem of knife crime and county lines is what Box Smart is trying to combat. It is recorded that Colchester has 5.7 knife crimes per 10,000 people.

CEO of Barnardo’s, Javed Khan said: “Knife crime is a symptom of a much bigger problem. When young people feel there is little or no possibility of a future…they are vulnerable to exploitation and criminality.

Box Smart was set up with Satellite Club funding from Active Essex and had the vision of instilling confidence and discipline within the young people and providing positive role models from the boxing coaches. Boxing allows young people to release built up energy, get fitter and become more relaxed. The 9-week programme helped young people improve their relationships, develop a new social network and show the importance of boxing and physical activity on their life choices. They also received guidance and mentoring from Colchester based Olympic boxer Lewis Richardson, who focussed on the importance of family and the benefits sport has brought him.

20 vulnerable young people were referred to the Colchester programme from a variety of sources including the Youth Offending Team and Essex Police. 16 young people attended and 9 completed the whole 9 weeks. Arlesford Boxing Club provided coaching for Box Smart and encouraged the participants to continue the sport after the programme had finished. All 9 individuals have now taken up a free membership at the Club, to continue their positive journey.

Chloe, aged 14 said: “I have made many friends in Box Smart with people I did not know before. It has made me happier as a person and it gives me an exciting activity to look forward to each week. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to attend the project. I hope that there will be similar projects in the future as I would like to be a part of something like this again!”

Scott, also 14 added: “I enjoyed the whole experience. I feel calmer and feel that I am good at boxing. I am proud of myself.”

A participant’s parent commented: “The entire Box Smart experience has had a massive impact on my son. His whole attitude has changed, he’s able to be in control of his anger and talks more about how he feels. His school have also commented that they have seen a difference in his attitude and his work ethic.”