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Vicky McClure, Jonny Owen and Jayne Torvill back community initiative that helps young people

todayJune 21, 2022 1

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Vicky McClure and Jonny Owen were announced as patrons as a new boxing gym and community hub was launched in Mansfield. The Switch Up community hub and Mansfield School of Boxing is opening in Barringer Road, Mansfield, and has been set up by Marcellus Baz, who already runs a gym and hub in St Ann’s in Nottingham.

Switch Up and the boxing school are two sister organisations focusing on supporting Mansfield’s mental health and antisocial behaviour via mentoring, boxing, counselling and community involvement. Vicky McClure was there with her partner Jonny Owen, a director at Nottingham Forest, with both being announced as celebrity patrons – Nottingham’s own Jayne Torvill also appeared on opening night on Tuesday, June 21.

At the event, Ms McClure told Nottinghamshire Live: “We have seen what Baz has been doing and we have always said we wanted to be a part of it. We have been supporting him [Baz] for quite a few years now – there are young people and they do not know what opportunities were out there, they have been dealt difficult cards.

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“The companies that support Baz, that are here tonight, they help these kids and get them into education and employment.”

Mr Owen said: “I come from an old mining town and I did boxing as a kid, it’s a great way to keep fit and I’m still friends with the people I did it with and they have given me a certain way of life – a respect for people. It’s about giving people choices.”

The pair spoke to children in the audience , with Vicky telling them that it’s ‘their world’ and chatting to some sat in the front row. Jayne Torvill, who has been a Switch Up patron since 2015, also gave a speech at the launch event.

Marcellus Baz said of the new project: “So we have set up this because we have been working with the Mansfield community for a number of years. We know there was a lot of poverty, a lot of deprivation, we know that a lot of young people didn’t have much to do.

“There wasn’t anywhere really that they could go and get engaged and get that support that they needed. A lot of young people were falling into antisocial behaviour and hanging around town and things like that.



Jayne Torvill and Marcellus Baz speaking at the launch of Mansfield School of Boxing
Jayne Torvill and Marcellus Baz speaking at the launch of Mansfield School of Boxing

“We were seeing a lot of drug addictions and the trajectory of a lot of people’s lives wasn’t going in the right direction. So what some of our aims are is to replicate a lot of what we’ve been doing in Nottingham and what we’ve replicated in other countries – a model that really works.

“A model that consists with getting young people up through the power of sport, to be able to get the discipline and to be able to channel their anger and aggression in a positive way. We’re going to be providing various different sports; football, basketball, badminton but predominantly boxing.

“Through Switch Up we’ll also be providing mentoring, that father-figure and guidance that a lot of these young people don’t have. We’re providing counselling services to deal with ingrained trauma that a lot of young people may have experienced.”

On how his former gang life drives him, he added: “Absolutely, that’s what drives me and motivates me to do this work. I’ve lived that life, I’ve had first-hand experience of hardship and getting caught up in the criminal circle.

“When you’ve experienced these sort of things it makes me absolutely determined that I don’t want other people to experience the things that I’ve experienced. To get caught up and groomed into that world where you find it very difficult to look at a way of getting back out of it.

“For me it was either get killed or going to prison. I knew that I needed to do something different and determined to do something different. But it was very hard to get out of that world. This is why I want to navigate a lot of young people that are getting into that world out of it and prevent a lot of them to even enter that world.”

Jayne Torvill, meanwhile, said at the event: “I think it’s absolutely brilliant that we have this facility – I’m excited about what it’s going to offer the children.”

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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