Bright Star Boxing Academy in Shifnal, is playing a critical role across Shropshire to positively change the futures of children and young people.

Known as ‘Bright Star Futures’, the project is commissioned by Shropshire Council, Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through the Life Chances Fund (administered by The National Lottery Community Fund).

This project came about as Energize and Shropshire Council recognised the need to act as a result of the increasing number of children at risk of, or having already been excluded from education, and the subsequent negative impacts this was having for the individuals, their families, and the wider community.

Bright Star Futures is supported by Energize who are one of sixteen providers involved in the pioneering Chances Social Impact Bond, which uses an investment loan from Big Issue Invest to deliver sport and activity to create opportunities to empower young people to get active and re-engage with education and skills provision; targeting those who are from low socio-economic backgrounds, have an offending record and/or low school attendance.

The key to the project though was bringing on board an organisation long supported and nurtured by Energize – Bright Star Boxing Academy. Under the leadership of Director Joe Lockley, Bright Star has transformed from just being a local boxing club to now being able to describe themselves as a not-for-profit organisation that uses boxing and education to empower vulnerable people to make positive changes to transform their lives.

The team involved (in Bright Star Futures) work with young people who:

  • Are at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment, or training)
  • Are at risk of being permanently excluded from education
  • Can have challenging behaviour
  • Have issues related to their mental health

The key focus of the project is to provide engaging, quality, and impactful alternative provision for every single young person referred from mainstream education with the aim of increasing levels of self-confidence and helping them all set, focus on, and achieve their goals.

To date, 110 participants, aged between 10 and 18 years have been through the Futures programme since September 2021 and already the positive impact is noticeably clear:

  • 65% reported increased self-confidence
  • 73% reported better anger management
  • 72% reported better mental health
  • 67% reported increased levels of self-belief

“I feel more like I have control. I’m not looking at blaming all my problems on other people, but looking at what I can do, so I think that’s what has made me so happy” - Participant

“Young people are Shropshire’s next generation.  Shropshire Council values its young people, and this investment supports Shropshire’s vulnerable young people – offering them access to great advice, mentoring, opportunities to increase skills and to be part of physical activities that are fun but focus the mind.  Its great to hear about the positive impact this programme is having on our young people” -  Children’s Portfolio holder Cllr Kirstie Hurst-Knight

“Bright Star have really helped young people realise that they can achieve. They now have goals and seem more motivated than ever”- Assistant Head Teacher 

The story of the transformation, ongoing growth, and importance of Bright Star to young vulnerable people in Shropshire is just as impressive as the impact their Futures programme is now having. They are expanding their team to be able to support more young people and in doing so are creating opportunities for adults too who wish to turn their own lives around through the support, training and activities Bright Star provide.

Energize will continue to support Bright Star to develop and to also learn from their amazing story to empower other local organisations to grow in a similar way. Imagine the powerful positive effect of having many community-based groups able to use the power of physical activity to support our vulnerable young people.


Related articles: