Big Lottery Fund
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Lottery funding to give young people a sporting chance

A charity set up by football star Rio Ferdinand and an organisation which uses boxing and martial arts to steer young people away from gangs and crime have received more than £745,000 in total from the Big Lottery Fund.

The money comes from the Fund’s Reaching Communities programme which helps those most in need and builds stronger communities. More than £19 million has been awarded to 75 projects across England in this latest round of awards.

Founded by ex-amateur boxer Luke Dowdney in Rio de Janeiro in the nineties, Fight For Peace (FFP) is part of a successful worldwide youth movement which has trained and engaged thousands of young people affected by gangs and violence.

Through their award of almost £475,000, FFP will continue to provide positive activities for young people aged 11-25 in Newham, Waltham Forest and Redbridge, as an alternative to crime, gangs and violence, and to raise their aspirations and skills. The FFP Academy provides opportunities for young people to engage in open access boxing, martial arts training and competitions, enabling participants to channel their aggression and build self-confidence and discipline.

Hundreds of young people have transformed their lives by participating at FFP, often drawn to the offer of free sports (the reason for 85 per cent of young people joining in 2012). Nothing at FFP is compulsory and young people are supported to build motivation and determination to better themselves. They are taught that there are no hand outs in life and that they have to work hard to achieve their full potential. 

A Pathways Education programme targets young people who have dropped out of education and allows them to gain GCSE equivalent qualifications in English and Maths. Members can access job skills training, mentoring, careers advice and partnerships with companies for internships or employment. Focusing on leadership skills, FFP also has a Youth Council to directly impact on the direction and development on the organisation.

Today’s Lottery grant will enable FFP to support more young people, as the organisation has had to cap participation due to limited resources. More than 1,300 young people have accessed FFP since January 2012, compared to 442 in 2010. The project, which was previously backed by the Big Lottery Fund, aims to engage with 2,400 young people over the next three years. The success of the project is clear from its statistics - in 2012, 94 per cent of FFP education learners were NEET at the time of recruitment and 93 per cent progressed on to further education, training or employment.

In 2012, young people receiving intensive mentoring support reported that as a result of attending FFP they are less likely to commit a crime and be a member of a gang (71%); will now think before they act (77%); feel calmer (71%) and feel more confident and ambitious (94%). Research by Ecorys in 2012 estimated that across the 800 participants in 2011, FFP resulted in 175 crimes being avoided, delivering £1,059,471 worth of savings to society.

Marigold Ride, Head of Programmes UK at Fight For Peace, said: “This generous grant from the Big Lottery Fund is invaluable to Fight for Peace.  We use boxing and martial arts to open dialogue with some of the hardest to reach young people; including those involved in gangs or violence; ex-offenders and those who are not in education, training or employment (NEET). As well as engaging young people, these sports, when combined with additional youth services such as personal development and mentoring, also help to channel aggression, build self-confidence, instil discipline and provide transferable skills such as goal setting. The organisation has achieved so much since its inception, and this grant will enable us to do even more, at a time when the demand from young people for Fight for Peace’s services is at an all-time high.”

The Rio Ferdinand Foundation will use the £270,820 grant to work with hundreds of young people aged 14 - 19 who are in care, involved in street gangs, or at risk of becoming involved in antisocial behaviour.

The Rising Stars project will improve social skills, increase access to training, education and employment through 48 weeks of sports and media activities delivered five days a week. The programme will include football, cricket, dance, photography, video production and journalism. 

The young people will gain qualifications so they can access work placements, work with local businesses, councillors and residents, and showcase their skills and achievements in performances, events and festivals.

Rio Ferdinand said: “The support of the Big Lottery Fund for the Foundation’s work in Greater Manchester will provide a much needed boost for young people in some of our most disadvantaged communities. I look forward to working with the Fund over the next three years to make a long lasting impact on young people’s lives in the city.”

Michael Nyarko, Head of Operations at the Foundation, said: “This funding is very much needed and gives the Rio Ferdinand Foundation the opportunity to deliver a ground-breaking and innovative project which will target some of the most hard to reach young men and women in Salford. It will be used to deliver the project which has been developed via consultation with young people from the local area supported by existing best practise.
“Rising Stars will provide a variety of positive engagement opportunities and activities supported by bespoke training with the long term aim of supporting participants into employment or education.”

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “Rio and his Foundation are doing invaluable work to steer young people away from gangs and towards more positive activities which will improve their aspirations and put them on a path towards brighter futures.

“Fight For Peace is a hugely inspiring and dynamic organisation that has fundamentally transformed the lives of hundreds of young people, encouraging them to foster ambitions and be the best they can.”

Fight For Peace Case studies:

Eusebio (Kido) da Silva, aged 21. (Available for interview)
Kido has lived in London for seven years. He is originally from Portugal and is living in London independently – his mother is based in Portugal. Kido was supported by his older sister when he first arrived in the UK but has worked very hard to become independent. 
He joined Fight for Peace (FFP) in 2008.  He explains that joining FFP has made him more focused on his dreams and goals. He feels he now has a strong foundation and plans to work towards his future.
Kido said: “Muay Thai gave me a lot of discipline and self-motivation. I built up my self-esteem as well. I’ve been doing Muay Thai for five years and now feel really confident about myself and towards other areas in my life. I’m able to do presentations and communicate with people. If there was a situation that could escalate into a fight, I’m more in control of avoiding it.”
“I joined the Youth Council too and I gained a lot of experience and met with a lot of people like the Trustees and attended Trustee meetings which is really important and makes us feel like we’re part of FFP, a part of what makes FFP work.”
Additionally, Kido is an athlete – a long-jumper and has already achieved a personal best of 7.34 metres but he was facing significant challenges with his athletics career prior to asking FFP to help. However, with the support of staff he has managed to be naturalised as a British citizen and will now be representing Great Britain. He is ranked in the top seven under 23s in the UK and is training towards Rio 2016.

Daniel (not his real name)

Daniel is a 25-year-old with qualifications, a full-time job and ambitious plans for the future. But five years ago, things looked very different for Daniel. Difficulties at school were mirrored with troubles outside which resulted in Daniel’s arrest for firearm and drug offences. He served almost five years in prison.

After a few day releases Daniel decided to use some time outside of the confines of the prison and attended a boxing session at FFP. His lasting memory is that it was “painful”, but he “left the gym with a real sense of accomplishment”. From then on Daniel always booked day releases from prison on Mondays so he could train at the Academy. After one training session a member of staff informed Daniel of an education course, and he was invited to join as soon as he left prison. Having been discharged, he would spend 12 hours a day at the FFP Academy arriving at 9am, studying at 10, helping at the Academy after lunch and then training until 9pm. After passing the first education course with flying colours there was a four month gap until the next one was due to start, and something new was needed to focus his mind. Daniel undertook a voluntary role maintaining the gym equipment and became an elected member of the FFP Youth Council. Spurred on to secure paid employment, Daniel was selected for a staff position which would also enable him to undertake a gym instructor qualification.

Daniel traces all of the success he has enjoyed at FFP back to boxing and martial arts. “Boxing and martial arts teach you the importance of hard work, preparation and dedication. You can come up against someone who’s better than you but you just have to train harder. Without the boxing and martial arts sessions, the education programme and Youth Council wouldn’t have appealed to me. Sports sessions make you turn up, everything else just slots into place at FFP. It all fits perfectly.”

“FFP has made a huge difference to me, I’ve not been in prison, I don’t have to worry about being arrested any more, my conscience is clear and I feel secure in my life. I’ve got a reason to be happy now, even if I’m in a bad mood, or feeling angry as soon as I get to FFP there’s something to smile about. Long-term I want to become a professional athlete or run my own gym as a personal trainer. I can’t think of anything better than being in a job that I love.”

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Notes to Editors

• The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since June 2004 the Fund has awarded over £6bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £30 billion has now been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.


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