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Gym packing a punch in fight against youth deprivation

TUCKED away at the end of a gloomy street in Broomhill, Glasgow, the gym is so well hidden that not even my taxi driver can find it.

FOCUS: Dylan and Martin, both aged 13, with owner Bernie Hammersley in the gym in Broomhill, Glasgow. Picture: Colin Mearns
FOCUS: Dylan and Martin, both aged 13, with owner Bernie Hammersley in the gym in Broomhill, Glasgow. Picture: Colin Mearns

But once inside it's a hive of activity, with teenage boxers sparring, skipping and doing their best to knock the stuffing out of punch bags.

This is no ordinary gym and these are no ordinary teenagers. That they're here at all, rather than hanging out on street corners, is down to the work of Scottish children's charity Aberlour.

Earlier this week, we launched The Herald Aberlour Christmas Appeal to raise funds for the charity's work across Scotland, and these busy evening sessions at The Edge Gym are part of its Youthpoint project.

The initiative sees young people aged 12 to 19 from areas scarred by social deprivation, drug and alcohol dependency and gangs offered training at the martial arts and boxing academy.

John Hendry, who works for Youthpoint, said: "The first group of kids I took here were from Craigton and Govan and out of them I got a young lad of 14 called Bobby Morrell (pictured right). He is now the Scottish junior champion.

"He has just lost out on the British title but there's talk of him becoming a professional champion. Bobby is now here, training these young people. He's an excellent role model for them.

"You see a different young person when he or she is in a ring with another boxer – they're not looking over their shoulder to see who is behind them. They enjoy a lot of respect from other boxers who are here.

"Once you gain their trust, that can open doors. For some of these kids, you are probably the only adult they can speak to. You do get attached to a lot of them."

Morrell, now 17, said: "It's been a great experience coming here. It keeps you fit and off the streets. I've learned a lot."

One youngster, Dylan, 13, said: "I've been coming here for 12 weeks. It's really good.

"I'd tried boxing once before but never got into it. I came here and I've enjoyed it. You work harder, the training is good and you feel a lot fitter from the workouts."

He added: "If I wasn't here tonight I'd be hanging about the streets and getting into gang fights. This is much better."

Kim, 16, who is accompanied by youth worker Julie Smith, is one of several girls who train at The Edge. The teenager said: "I came here because I wanted to get involved with sporting stuff.

"The training has been amazing. Before I came here I'd be walking about the streets in the rain, bored. We'd be doing stupid things 24/7. Youthpoint was the only organisation that came to help me."

Photographs on the gym's website show owner Bernie Hammersley with boxing legends like Jim Watt and Joe Frazier and he has been impressed by the talent unearthed by Youthpoint.

Hammersley, who is also Morrell's manager, said: "We've got some really good prospects, the kids have really benefited from coming here."

There are various ways that you can contribute to The Herald Aberlour Christmas Appeal:

BY TEXT:

Text the word HARK to 70707 to donate £10.

ONLINE:

To donate online go to www.aberlour.org.uk/heraldappeal

To donate via Just Giving, go to www.justgiving.com/heraldchristmasappeal

You can also scan this QR code to go to the web page

You can also scan this QR code to go to the web page

    

BY POST:

To donate by post, make cheques payable to Aberlour and send to The Herald Aberlour Christmas Appeal, FREEPOST SCO1126, Stirling FK8 2BR.

 

 

   

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