MP for Sport Helen Grant visits Small Heath Boxing Club

Club members and committee outside the premises along with Helen Grant MP, centre, flanked by Paddy Benson, and grandfather Pat

Club members and committee outside the premises along with Helen Grant MP, centre, flanked by Paddy Benson, and grandfather Pat

Helen Grant, the Minister for Sport, Tourism & Equalities, paid a visit to Small Heath Boxing Club in Digbeth on Tuesday 22nd July as part of a visit organised by leading Sport for Development charity, Sported.

The visit saw Helen Grant MP tour the club’s Digbeth facilities and meet Small Heath Boxing Club’s Club leader, Paddy Benson, along with his grandfather Pat Benson, whom he took over the running of the club from in 2010. Both Paddy and his grandfather are fundamental to the successful running and development of boxing in Birmingham. As well as running the famous Small Heath Boxing Club, Paddy is regional secretary for the Birmingham and District Boxing Association.

The visit of Helen Grant MP to Small Heath Boxing Club was facilitated by Sported in order to demonstrate to the Minister the value of Sport for Development projects to local communities. Sported is a UK-wide charity that provides funding and business support to community organisations that use sport to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people.

As a community club that does invaluable work using the sport of boxing to engage young people, bring them together and teach them life-skills, Small Heath Boxing Club is itself a member of Sported and has been a beneficiary of its support. The charity provided the club with business support through one of its volunteer business mentors, Martyn Brawn, who has worked with Paddy to develop a sustainable three-year business plan. Following this successful partnership, Sported subsequently awarded the club a grant of £9,345 to purchase new equipment and implement its plan. Organisation leader Paddy said, ‘Sophie Tobin, Sported’s regional manager for West Midlands, has been a great help to us, also facilitating the formation of a relationship between our club and the Fight for Peace Academy, which offers consultancy support to boxing and martial arts clubs all over the world, including South America and North Africa. This is a great link and will progress our club over the next couple of years. We have received funding from Sported but more importantly they have opened the doors to partnership opportunities which are invaluable. The visit of Helen Grant MP is another example. Martyn Brawn, our business mentor, has also been essential. We are developing a more detailed business plan and thinking about our club in a more strategic way.’

Paul Napthine, Head of Nations and Regions at Sported, said: “Small Heath Boxing Club is a brilliant example of a sports club that is making a real difference to the local community and the young people that come through its doors. It was a pleasure to introduce Helen Grant to the club; she took a real interest in the club’s work and its plans for the future.”