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Fighting homelessness


The gloves are well and truly on in the fight against homelessness in Cardiff as a new boxing programme is helping individuals get their lives back on track.


Fighting Homelessness is a new project created by Council hostel key worker, Rob Green, and Llanrumney Phoenix Boxing Club, which taps into the positive benefits of physical exercise on a person's mental health and overall wellbeing.


Every week, a group of hostel residents, many of whom have spent long periods on the streets, join Rob and Llanrumney Phoenix trainer, Tony Richards, to be put through their paces for an hour at the gym.  The 10-week scheme includes general fitness and boxing drills, as well as time after each session learning about healthy eating by preparing a meal together. 



Rob, who joins the weekly work-out at the gym, said: "The difference the programme has made to some of the guys is amazing. We've had some brilliant outcomes - some of them have gone on to work experience, some paid work. Another one of our residents has been transformed - he is doing incredibly well and is a real role model for other residents.


"As the weeks have gone by, a real camaraderie has developed among everyone who comes along. It's become very social and something the guys can feel part of. I describe the programme as a metaphor for their lives. When they are in the ring or gym, they are learning perseverance and not to give up which can help them to keep going towards ending their homeless journey.


"Naturally people's mental wellbeing can be affected by being homeless. People can suffer with depression and anxiety so we're seeing the positive effects this programme is having not only on people's physical health but their mental wellbeing too. You can't put a price on that."



Hostel resident Liam Liddell, 29, said: "I was in and out of prison, addicted to drugs, sleeping rough for years, I couldn't even say for how long.


"But I've been coming to boxing with Rob for the last couple of weeks and it's sorting my head out. It's keeping me off drugs, away from alcohol. It's putting me in a better frame of mind, making me feel proud of myself. It's helped me a lot in different ways."


Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne, said: "All credit to Rob, who has done an amazing job setting up this programme. The impact on the group of residents taking part has been incredible and it's wonderful to see people getting their lives back on track.


"We're very grateful to Llanrumney Phoenix Boxing Club for their support in the project which is

proving to be an invaluable way to engage with people, some of whom have very complex needs. This is delivering a fantastic boost to individuals' confidence as well as their physical and mental wellbeing andis helping overcome the challenges many face in turning their lives around."