By Callum Jackson
As UK lockdown rules currently prohibit the Nottingham School of Boxing from running their usual face-to-face gym sessions, volunteer coach Ashley Cowdrey has taken to Facebook and Zoom to offer exercise and respite to Nottingham’s most vulnerable.
The club’s official Facebook page has become a hub for connectivity during the past 11 months, posting pre-recorded challenges for people to partake in, and now Ashley hosts lessons and other family activities for disadvantaged families to enjoy.
“It is desperately important that we offer exercise and respite free of charge for our vulnerable members”
Ashley Cowdrey, Volunteer Coach
Ashley enforces the importance of connection for the members of the Boxing club:
“A lot of our members are vulnerable, whether that be that they’re in care, or have an unhappy home life, or simply are part of a single-parent family, we worry about our members so had to make sure there was still a way of connecting.”
As well as regular online boxing lessons, there are also other activities such as bedtime stories available for younger members to get involved in, which Ashley believes can be very important to some members. Ashley is a father himself, so takes to Facebook Live to read his son’s story, in the hope that other children can also join and feel connected.
“The idea is to give them something to look forward to, and to get other parents involved that wouldn’t usually be the type to read bedtime stories or join in boxing sessions, maybe if they see me doing it with my kids they can feel more comfortable doing it with their children, and for single parents, it could give them just a little bit of respite while their kids are enjoying a session.”
All sessions are completely free, which Ashley believes is “desperately important” as there are families out there who have no money at all, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The impacts of the pandemic have been devastating, some people genuinely have nothing, so it is important that we offer whatever help we can through our online activities, and parents can know that it won’t cost a thing.”
Whilst the online boxing club has been a success, Ashley has still had some struggles, as he often works with children that come from rough homes, he says it can be difficult to understand the depth of vulnerability for some children without their face-to-face gym being open. There are some great things being done over their online platform, but for Ashley, eyes are on the future in hope of returning to the gym sooner rather than later:
“Being in the gym to do my online sessions over Zoom really does makes me want to cry, the place is usually so full of fun and laughter, but now it really is cold and empty, and for our younger members we need that physical interaction. But for now, the online activities will keep them in the loop and hopefully give them something to channel their energy into.”
To partake in the Nottingham School of Boxings online timetable, send a message via their Facebook page, or text 07776688313 to request a Zoom code.