George has lived and worked in the Wandsworth Borough all his life and has a tireless commitment to helping the youths of the borough turn their lives around. He aims to work with them through positive activity to help them keep out of trouble and create positive futures in training and employment. For 11 year George has given up his free time in the evening and weekends to work with youths through both 1-1, personal action plans, mentoring and sporting interventions to help develop their futures.
He started his voluntary work while working with the Youth Offending Team as he soon found that it benefitted his cases continuing with their meetings after their YOT orders had ended. A lot of youths from troubled backgrounds lack consistency in their lives so he found that remaining their mentor helped their rehabilitation. In fact some cases have worked with George for years as he recognises that for some change can take a long time. This work can be phone calls, attending police/Social Services meetings with them or on their behalf or meetings.
George is currently running a charity called Carney’s Community which he set up with a boxing coach called Mark Reigate in 2011. This was originally set up with no funding, only good will from a boxing club, however he now has funding streams to expand their services and sessions offered. Carney’s offers boxing fitness coaching, 1-1 life coaching sessions and employment assistance. Any week can see 25 young people of the borough attend the club. It is also not just for disadvantaged youths; following the riots it was judged helpful to bridge the gap between social classes and so there are a mixture of people from all backgrounds at the centre. Most youths they work with have low self esteem so group activity can really help this. It also provides a feeling of group solidarity which helps when encouraging people to leave gangs. I met one young teen called R___ on my visit there who explained ‘normally I would be out causing trouble at this time on a Friday evening; instead I am at Carney’s getting fit and meeting new people’.
When I visited the club on a Friday evening, there were about 20 teenagers there all working on their fitness and boxing technique. I spoke to C___ who used to be a prolific offender and has worked with George for years. He told me ‘I have worked with George since I met him through the Youth Offending Team. All the work we have done since has been in his own time. He has got me onto courses, kept in touch when I was in prison and even attended Social Services meetings for me. He is always there to show me that there is another way and advise me. Since I joined Carney’s I now have a job as a hotel porter as George makes links with companies around London. I would describe him as a man that never gives up.’
Mark Reigate, Boxing Coach tells me ‘I’ve worked with George for 10 years now and he has secured all the funding for Carney’s to pay for the club and the equipment. He is very god at working with youths and a real community asset.’
I want George to win this award as he dedicates most weekends and numerous evenings to Carney’s and I feel is a real local unsung hero. He has also had a direct positive impact on the lives of so many local youths, whether it be by direct 1-1 work, his paid employment or his school briefings.