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All of us can experience loneliness at some point in our lives. It’s time we started talking about it.

Boxing Futures

“It’s helped me find a place where I feel safe. I used to be really lonely, I had no routine, and my mental health wasn’t great. I feel like I have a family now,” Saffron, 20.

There are lots of ways to combat loneliness. For Saffron, it’s through boxing.

Boxing Futures

Saffron joined eight other young women to co-design and then take on the challenge of the ‘Sisters Through Boxing’ programme from Boxing Futures.

Created to help young women across Peterborough build wellbeing and fitness though non-contact boxing sessions, the project also helps to grow connections and relationships to tackle loneliness.

We part-fund Sisters Through Boxing through a £77,000 grant from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand –  a partnership between the Co-op Foundation and government to expand or enhance the work organisations are doing to tackle loneliness.

Starting with co-design

The team at Boxing Futures spent three months working with young women from the local area to co-design what the Sisters Through Boxing programme should look like and achieve.

This process included outreach work in and around Peterborough, and focus groups for young women to input their ideas and suggestions.

We know from other grants we’ve awarded through the Building Connections Fund Youth strand that co-design is a great way to create effective services for young people that tackle loneliness. Read more in this report from New Philanthropy Capital – the Building Connections Fund evaluation partner.

Building connections and boosting wellbeing

Sisters Through Boxing launched in April 2019 with nine women and girls aged 16 to 25 years old taking part.

Participants meet weekly and combine physical exercise sessions in a real boxing ring with peer support group discussions on topics like loneliness and body image. You can still sign up to take part by emailing info@boxingfutures.org.uk.

Founder, Anthony York, says the programme has really caught the imagination. He said: “Boxing crosses social barriers. ‘Sisters Through Boxing’ has enabled us to work with young women who have that interest but wouldn’t necessarily go to an amateur boxing club.”

These thoughts are echoed by the participants.

Saffron said: “Boxing Futures [has] helped me in terms of increasing my confidence, and it’s made a huge difference to my life.”

Fellow Sisters Through Boxing member, Kitty added: “It’s like our own little support system where we just come together and talk about what our week’s been like, anything that’s going on in our lives. It gives us an understanding that we’re not the only ones experiencing loneliness and other struggles in our lives.”