To mark Black History Month, we hear from an inspirational figure who has become involved in the Arsenal and adidas No More Red campaign. Dr Stephen Addison BEM, aged 32, is founder and CEO of Box Up Crime.
“I grew up in Barking, and prior to opening up Box Up Crime I was a misguided young man involved in the streets up to no good. I lacked purpose and identity.
“After finding faith in God I went on a journey of transformation in changing my life around. I picked up boxing training, which gave me discipline and structure, and enrolled at London South Bank University. I wanted to study business with a vision of one day opening my own gym that could get kids off the streets.
“I went on to graduate with a First Class degree for my university assignment, which entailed setting up Box Up Crime, which provides free boxing sessions for all young people in the community. Ten years on, Box Up Crime has successfully engaged with more than 30,000 young people to date, and we have also delivered Box Up Crime to multiple London boroughs and internationally. We have seen many young people find purpose and positively exit a life of crime and gangs.
“I saw first-hand the negative impacts that crime and gangs had on my friends and wider community, and I witnessed many people of my generation perish due to senseless murders and lengthy jail sentences. I was deeply passionate about seeing a change and also providing a sustainable and impactful solution to the problem. Since then our work has been recognised nationally, receiving the British Empire Medal in the 2019 Queen’s honours list.
“Box Up uses sport, and boxing in particular, as a tool to inspire, educate and develop young individuals. Box Up helps young people build up strength, confidence and resilience. Our mentors also act as role models to get to know the kids and work with “at risk” young people to guide them on to positive paths and improve their life chances.
“This boost in self-assurance and practical skills has far-reaching effects on their overall wellbeing and their ability to contribute to society. We have also seen many young people successfully exit a life of gangs and Serious Youth Violence, and discover a purpose and identity in more positive alternatives. A number of the young people we have worked with when they were in school or excluded are now working with us, either in our gym or as programme leaders going back into schools and supporting young people. Some have even gone back to their old schools as mentors, having turned their lives around to put themselves on a positive path.
“No More Red is a powerful campaign, and our work with thousands of young people over the past decade, and the positive feedback we have received, resulted in Box Up Crime becoming a No More Red partner.
“Collaborating with esteemed organisations such as Arsenal and adidas empowers us to forge tangible pathways for the young individuals we’re privileged to serve. This enduring partnership fills us with enthusiasm because we understand that, beyond the immediate excitement of the No More Red campaign, transforming young lives is a steadfast and positive journey towards a brighter future. Our vision is to see an end to knife crime and the loss of lives both of young people being killed and others going to prison for life.
“No More Red is dedicated to creating positive, lasting changes in the lives of young people. By working with the campaign, organisations have the opportunity to directly contribute to these transformative efforts.
“The campaign has garnered significant attention and support from various stakeholders, including the public, media and potential partners. Collaborating with the campaign provides exposure to this wider audience and opens doors to networking with like-minded organisations and influential figures. This can lead to new partnerships and collaborations in the future. We have also had the pleasure of a number of NMR volunteers joining our team through the campaign, and they have been a huge asset to our organisation.
“For us, being part of the No More Red campaign is massive because we believe that such a high-profile football club taking a stand and putting their weight behind such a topic will have a massive influence.
“This partnership signifies a powerful endorsement of the campaign’s message and a resounding commitment to effecting positive change. It broadcasts a clear message to a wide audience: that issues addressed by the No More Red campaign are not only important but also deserve the attention and support of influential entities in the wider world.
“The influence wielded by a club of Arsenal’s stature extends far beyond the confines of the football field. It permeates communities, resonates with fans and captures the attention of the media on a global scale. This immense reach provides an unparalleled platform to amplify the campaign’s message and inspire action.
“I know that Black History Month is important to Arsenal, too. Highlighting the contributions of the Black community acknowledges their pivotal role in shaping the club’s history and the broader football landscape. It affirms that these individuals are integral to the narrative and deserve recognition. It’s an acknowledgment of the individuals who have not only excelled on the field but have also made enduring contributions to Arsenal’s legacy.
“Beyond this I strongly believe that everyone is equal and anyone who makes positive contributions to making the world a better place should be encouraged and recognised.”
For more information visit boxupcrime.org
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