How the South Tyneside community played a part in rescuing valuable facilities across the borough

A community-run boxing club is playing a key role in keeping young people on the right track.

Monday, 24th June 2019, 14:00 pm
Bilton Hall Boxer Robbie Colman and coach Martyn Devlin, at Bilton Hall Community Trust.

Bilton Hall Amateur Boxing Association runs a club in Simonside three times a week.

It takes place at Bilton Hall Community Association, which was safeguarded from closure thanks to the local community stepping in to take over its management from South Tyneside Council.

Against a background of cuts in central Government funding, the council asked for community support to keep a range of facilities open. This included one leisure centre, one youth facility, 12 community associations and four branch libraries.

Bilton Hall Boxer Robbie Colman.

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Council leader Iain Malcolm, said: “Research has shown that South Tyneside is one of the hardest-hit areas as a result of Government cuts.

“However, we recognise the vital role that community centres play in our communities and decided to look at alternative ways of keeping these valued resources sustainable for future generations.”

Boxing club leader Martyn Devlin, has been involved with the club for more than 30 years. In that time, thousands of young people have come through the doors.

Robbie Colman and coach Martyn Devlin.

Martyn said: “Boxing teaches them discipline, dedication and physical excellence, but we also try to guide the kids away from drugs and drink. It can be difficult in this area because there’s a massive unemployment problem.

“In the past there were plenty of jobs in shipbuilding, but it’s so much harder now for young people.

“However, I feel this club plays a key role in helping to keep kids on the right tracks.”