Marcellus Baz

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From gangs to helping young people all over Nottingham.

I introduced Marcellus in the last issue of iNSIDEONE Magazine, his company Switch Up is uniting the youth of Nottingham through sport, to help them achieve a brighter future and empower them to succeed. Last month’s article told you a little about Marcellus and how his challenging background has lead to a positive contribution to the community in Nottingham.

Now read about the work Marcellus and Switch Up are doing today and about their plans for the future;

“Hello Marcellus, great to see you again”.

I’d like our readers to understand more about the great work you’re doing with young people in Nottingham. Can I start by asking you to tell us a little about the young people?

“Yes of course”, we work with approx 350 young people through different projects in the Nottingham area.

The core group we work with on a day to day basis include approx 150 young people referred to us by organisations such as Vanguard Plus, the Probation Service, Police, Schools, Youth Offending and of course Self Referrals.

We reach a wide age group between 6 and 40 years, our core group tend to be between the ages of 11-26. We’re making huge strides in bridging the gaps between young people across Nottingham.

Delivering positive messages to boys and girls from a variety of backgrounds who find themselves entrenched in or on the fringes of gang criminality.

In what way do you help these young people?

We offer a wide range of programmes, our organisation “Switch Up” is primarily based around our boxing club, “Nottingham School of Boxing” but we also link with other sports such as football, basketball, often at elite levels.

We also provide mentoring and workshops on Social skills, Employability, Life skills, Substance misuse, Nutrition, Gang issues, social interaction and Job Ready programmes.

We are always keen to plug young people into activities that they enjoy and might not be aware off.

Where ever possible we try to involve families and parents, many parents want to help but just don’t know the best way to go about it, so our parent workshops endeavour to offer the right guidance.

How do you manage to establish rapport with the young people you work with?

Firstly by showing them respect, often throughout the course of their lives, few if anyone has shown these young people any respect at all, all they hear is “your just disrespectful , or you should be more respectful” So they say “ no one respects us so why should we respect them? Good point?

We build relationships; we build trust and teach mutual respect through example. Each young person is appointed their own mentor to support them on an ongoing basis.

All young people learn by example, our young people are no different; our mentors come from all walks of life and are carefully matched to offer maximum support.

What financial support do you receive for the project?

When we first set up we had no funding at all, we were totally dependent on our own recourses. Where possible some of the young people or their families will be asked to contribute to sessions, this is generally a means tested system. Funding has been received from different sources such as Sport England and the Big Lottery.

We recently attracted the attention of a wealthy family who had sent scouts out around the country looking for projects they felt worthy of support.

Our project was selected, later we found out that it was in fact Prince Hurry’s charity who had contacted us, and you may recall the press coverage his visit attracted earlier this year.

We are currently part of the delivery group for the Royal Foundations project, which is being delivered across St Ann’s, which we hope will continue for a total of three years

Do you have a permanent base in Nottingham?

Unfortunately not! Despite the great work we do and the success we have each and every day, plus the fact that our model of working has been emulated in Denmark with interest from other European countries.

We currently have a temporary shared venue at the Sycamore Community Centre in St Ann’s and several temporary satellite venues in Nottinghamshire.

This is a huge issue for the project, as on occasion we have had no option but to work out of the back of car’s or in local parks.

We are currently seeking the support of any individual, business or organisation who would consider supporting us financially to establish a permanent base; we have looked at a number of venues over the last few months and are keen to obtain financial backing and support as soon as possible.

Can we do anything to help you in securing a permanent venue?

Yes certainly! If any of your readers are interested in helping or if they know anyone who may like to help us then please pass us their details and we will make contact. Alternatively our contact details are listed below; we’d love to hear from anyone who’d like to help us.

Do you partner or support other organisations in Nottinghamshire?

Yes we do, we work with several organisations, it’s important to share best practice and to share recourses at all levels.

Some of the organisations we work with include, PMG Football, Caribbean Cavaliers, Mixed Foundations, Meadows Partnership Trust, Unity and Deanwood School, Youth Offending and the Probation Services.

How do you measure the success of the work that you do?

We have various ways to measure success. We have regular assessments, conduct reviews and constantly set goals to measure performance.

Recently we worked with a group of 30 young people; our aim was to get them into employment, education or training or to volunteer. Following the programme 29 of the 30 young people where successfully placed.

Many of the young people we work with I would term “rough diamonds” they all have a lot to offer but because of previous history or challenging attitudes people just won’t give them a second chance.

We never give up on any person who needs our support and there is no time limit on the time we will spend with them!

Please tell us about your vision for the future?

To have a permanent site, a main hub – with a boxing gym with weights for resistance training, Classrooms with teachers for educational support, to have a Kitchen for teaching healthy cooking and food preparation, health and wellbeing with community involvement too. Job ready and employment workshops, and alternative education options.

A place where we can set up, therapy rooms to support young people suffering trauma, drug or alcohol abuse.

We’d create opportunities to help break down barriers and work on community cohesion, have satellite clubs in other areas of deprivation within Nottinghamshire feeding back to this main hub for any support required.

We’ll develop closer relationships with commercial businesses, the DWP, and other voluntary, community and training organisations.

We’ll create more opportunities to attract dedicated passionate people to work with and support young people across Nottinghamshire.

“Thank so much for talking to me Marcellus and for sharing with us the great work you do with the young people of Nottingham”.

Please contact Marcellus on 07412 691 466 or at www.switch-up.org.uk