Today we share the story of another one of the thousands of young people we fight for every year – and how Empire Fighting Chance has transformed their life.  

Meet Amelia*. 

Amelia had been the victim of bullying throughout her childhood, leading to a lack of self-confidence, social anxiety, and a persistent fear of how others perceived her. She had been referred to NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) after suffering from severe depression which exhausted her mentally and physically.  

It was CAMHS who then referred Amelia to Empire’s Training with the Champions non-contact boxing and mentoring programme, with the hope that we could build up her resilience and independence as she considered her options for further education.  

The journey 

During her first few sessions with Empire, Amelia was open with her coach about her experience of bullying, and how it had been a trigger for her anxiety. As she built a rapport with boxing coach Heather, Amelia began to seem more self-assured. Her mum told us at the time, “I can see that these sessions really help with her moods, and that she is more uplifted after attending”. She told us that when Amelia missed a session, there was a noticeable drop in her mood. 

Throughout the boxing sessions, personal development (PD) points were used to help Amelia to better understand how she was feeling. One week, Heather used the PD point ‘There are no wrong feelings’, because Amelia would often feel frustrated with herself if she wasn’t having a good day, believing she was in the wrong. As the weeks progressed, she learned not to fear her emotions, and that having one bad day did not mean every day would feel the same. 

Another week, Amelia told Heather that she wanted to make new friends. The PD point for that session was ‘Feel the fear’, and they focused on her worries about talking to new people or trying a new activity. Using Amelia’s initial hesitance of boxing sessions as an example of her bravery in trying something new, Amelia built up the confidence to talk to new people at school. The trauma of being bullied in the past had led Amelia to worrying that people would be rude or nasty to her, but as she took control of her fear and built her resilience, she began making new friends.  

The impact 

Since taking part in the 20-week programme, Amelia told us she feels more self-assured. During her sessions, Amelia worked on small goals, then took those lessons to school, such as how to approach people she doesn’t know well. She also used these mini goals to tackle her schoolwork, breaking it down into manageable chunks throughout the day. 

Working with Heather, Amelia also developed a better appreciation of her own emotions. She became more comfortable with the highs and the lows – the natural cycle of emotions we all experience. When she feels low, she knows that it won’t last forever. She now puts less pressure on herself to make friends, especially on those days when she is feeling less sociable, allowing herself to enjoy the moment and make friends at her own pace.  

Physically, Amelia has also seen a change since being with Empire. Before coming to the gym, she would spend a lot of her free time at home on the sofa. Now she is prioritising exercise and has felt a positive impact on her mental health as a result.  

Amelia is now in her final year of A Levels, thinking about what her next steps will be – and credits Empire with giving her hope for her future.  

*Name changed to protect identity. Image used for illustrative purposes only and not connected to story. 

THIS IS OUR FIGHT. 

To find out more about Empire Fighting Chance’s Training with the Champions programme, click here. 

To refer a young person to Empire Fighting Chance, email info@empirefightingchance.org