A couple of months ago we profiled the work of IDAS, the charity which works with abuse victims locally and which is one of the Lord Mayor of York’s two chosen charities of the year. Here, STEPHEN LEWIS profiles the Lord Mayor’s second chosen charity – the Jack Raine Foundation.
JADE Seal is the first to admit she was no angel as a teenager. She just didn’t get on in mainstream schools. “I was terrible,” she says.
“I couldn’t sit down or concentrate. I was always fighting, destroying classrooms. They used to try to keep me in school, but I would just walk out and go home. I was just a pain – an angry teenager.”
She doesn’t blame her upbringing. She had a good childhood, she says, with her mum and a step-dad who was like a dad. But she just didn’t like school.
Brought up in Goole, she moved to York six years ago as a young teenager. A social worker referred her to Danesgate; and then she found herself spending time each week at the York Boxing Club, which was developing a reputation for working with young people who had difficulty fitting in at mainstream schools.
The club, based at Redeness Street then, gave her an education like nothing she’d encountered before, Jade says.
“They would give you space. You’d come in in the morning, sit in the office, have a cup of tea, and then Billy [the charity’s head coach, Billy Wilson] would take you over to the gym to do a workout.”
She found herself responding to the much more relaxed approach – so much so that she became one of the first girls from the north of England to get the Amateur Boxing Association’s GCSE in boxing.
“I was on the BBC news,” she says. “I was quite proud.”
Jade is now 19 and she has turned her life around. Later this year, after taking part in an X Factor-style selection process in which she beat off scores of other hopefuls, she will be going to Turkey as a holiday rep for a tour company.
This will be a dream come true, she says. After years of visiting Turkey for her holidays, she can read and write Turkish. “But I’ve always wanted to move to Turkey.” She knows this may never have been possible without the support she found through the York Boxing Club, and the more relaxed, flexible approach to learning.
The club has now become the Jack Raine Foundation, taking its name from Jack Raine, the former housemaster of the old Castle Howard Reformatory and Approved School, who was also a former boxing club coach.
The base now is a community sports club off Walmgate, where boxing and martial arts tuition still form an important part of the work done with young people. But the foundation is now an accredited ‘alternative learning provider’.
Working in partnership with local schools and colleges, and with national training organisations such as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme and ASDAN, an accredited provider of flexible training courses, it is able to offer a much wider range of courses and activities aimed at ‘disengaged’ young people.
Jade became a trustee of the foundation, so as to try to give something back to the organisation that helped her.
“I owe this place,” she says. “I want to see this place do well. I want to help kids that are like me.”
It is because of the way the foundation has helped people like Jade – and the other young people whose stories we report on today – that Lord Mayor of York Coun Julie Gunnell chose it as one of her two charities for her year of office.
She and other councillors went along to an open evening at the foundation, where they had the chance to chat to young people who use the centre, and to find out about what it does.
“And it just felt right,” she says. “What I love about the Jack Raine Foundation is that their door is open to all local teenagers, and will work with them, give them confidence through fitness and education giving them hope for their own futures.
“There have been young people who have gone there with no self-confidence, very troubled, and they have made real successes of themselves, and gone on to find jobs. I am pleased to support a charity that works to help our young people in York.”
Other young people who have been helped by the Jack Raine Foundation
Lance* (19) was an aggressive young man who was constantly taking up police time and resources. He was also a high priority for the council’s enforcement team as he was causing antisocial behavior and frightening other residents. He was referred by the police to the early morning boxing social club.
Lance was shy and lacked confidence and social grace. He soon started mixing with other club members from all walks of life. He attended the club for eight months, has since found full time work, and is no longer on the police/council radar.
Kevin* (19) was excluded from school and didn’t attend any school for four months. “I was referred to the Jack Raine Foundation and they helped me out with one-to-one mentoring sessions, you never got this through mainstream school,” he says. “Without the one-to-one support I’d probably have ended up in a life of crime – robbing and in trouble with the old Bill.”
Kevin spent 18 months with the foundation. He became re-engaged through boxing, rebuilt his life and is now a chef at a York hotel. He lives with his girlfriend and their baby.
Hazel* (14 when she came to the foundation) was from a quite well-to-do family. She was “Daddy’s little Princess,” so was a bit spoilt. Her mother didn’t know how to cope with her behaviour, and she ended up excluded from all mainstream education and referred to a pupil support unit. There she wouldn’t do anything; no one could get through to her.
She became involved with petty crime – shoplifting – and also became addicted to M-Cat when it was a new drug to the city. At one point she was classed as the most vulnerable child in York.
One day a Jack Raine Foundation support worker heard her singing. She started singing lessons through the Foundation and gained a GCSE in music. It took years of patience, but ultimately she went for an interview for a music college course. Going to college opened up a whole new world to her. She won a university place, but eventually chose to accept a job in retail instead.
* Names have been changed
THE Jack Raine Foundation has roots that go back to 1967 when it was set up as a sports club – the York Boxing Club – for children and teenagers.
A few years ago, a grant of £500 from North Yorkshire Police to the boxing club’s ‘Off the Hook’ project enabled it to start offering extra sports tuition and the chance to become coaches themselves to disadvantaged young people and those not in education, employment or training.
The charity has now changed its name to the Jack Raine Foundation after Jack Raine, the former housemaster of the old Castle Howard Reformatory and Approved School, which closed in the mid-1980s. Mr Raine, who died a few years ago, was also a former coach at the York Boxing Club.
The foundation is now based at the Enterprise Complex, a community sports club just off Walmgate.
As an accredited Alternative Learning Provider, it works with ‘disengaged’ young people aged mainly between ten and 24, providing a range of flexible activities and training courses that can lead to nationally accredited qualifications.
“We… support children, teenagers and adults in the community in key areas that reflect their needs,” a spokesman said. “We have reengaged many children, teenagers and adults back into education, college or entertainment.”
Accredited qualifications offered through the foundation include the Duke of Edinburgh Award, boxing and martial arts qualifications accredited by the Amateur Boxing Association of England or the Oriental Sports Association, and a range of qualifications accredited by ASDAN, a charitable social enterprise which provides courses to thousands of UK and international schools, colleges, youth centres and training providers.
ASDAN qualifications on offer include boxing, fashion design, sports coaching, and personal social development and personal social health and education courses which cover everything from healthy eating and living to relationships and personal wellbeing.
To find out more about the work of the Jack Raine Foundation, or to make a donation, visit jackrainefondation.org.uk or phone 01904 632089.
Money donated will go towards the foundation’s activities. Every £10,000 of income will make possible:
• 1,000 hours of sport activities twice a week for 100 children or teenagers for one year; or
• 120 teenagers to complete three parts of The Duke of Edinburgh Award; or
• 100 teenagers to complete The Police Community Clubs of Great Britain Contender Award; or
• 29 disengaged students to take an ASDAN GCSE E in sport; or
• Three young people ‘Not in Education Employment or Training’ (NEETS) to go through an Alternative Learning Provision Apprenticeship and into employment; or
• Provide a part-time education officer for one year to work with children who are hard to reach; or
• Provide a part time welfare officer for one year to work in areas of child abuse – mental, physical and sexual; or
• Offer an access to music course to 10 young musicians gaining placements into university; or
• Set up a theatre drama group for one year for young people