London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: The Community Impact Award - Carney's Community
BOXING legend Mick Carney’s legacy flourishes in a nondescript building on a Battersea side street where countless lives have been transformed through sport.
And now, almost exactly a decade after Carney passed away in November 2011, the club that bears his name has been nominated for a prestigious London Sport Award.
Youth worker George Turner co-founded Carney’s Community with ex-boxer Mark Reigate. The 40-year-old, himself a dad, recognised the need for a place where disadvantaged and excluded youth could come—not only to learn boxing, but life skills through his team of dedicated coaches.
He said: “Carney’s Community is a place to belong, to thrive, and to recognise your strengths.
“It’s a place that will never turn anyone away and we will be a home to anyone who wants it.”
The Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the stories of the unsung community, whose outstanding work across the capital helps Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.
Carney’s work is holistic. Free boxing lessons with session-based mentoring are the primary focus, but participants are invited to enjoy a full meal as part of their Fit and Fed initiative – or even help cook it, as was the case when a last-minute cancellation left the kitchen short-handed.
One participant volunteered and soon found himself assisting Carney’s community chef, cooking up a delicious curry chicken dinner for over 40 people, followed by pepper steak with mac and cheese for a discerning crowd just two days later.
Turner said: “That’s given him the confidence to say ‘yeah, I can do it,’ and to be able to see that he’s just served really good food to loads of people who are probably going to be the harshest food critics you’ll ever come across.”
Another social enterprise out of the club, Battersea Bikes, trains and employs young people in bike maintenance, while Carney’s Coaches offers a pathway for participants to become paid coaches and personal trainers.
One former participant, with the support of Carney’s team, set up Good Guys Decorating, which, for every paid job, paints the bedroom of a child living in poverty or with mental health challenges for free.
It’s clear Turner is the sort of selfless leader who would show up – usually for 10 to 12 hours a day - without any kind of recognition.
But being nominated for a London Sport Award, he insists, means the world to his team.
Turner, who will discover if he is a winner at an eagerly-anticipated awards ceremony at the historic Guildhall on December 6, said: “They give up so much of their time, some voluntary and some not very much money at all.
“But they still put the effort in, put the energy in, and I think they get a lot of reward from seeing the successes of young people, but the wider society might not recognise the importance of the roles they’re doing.”
Words: Rachel Steinberg (Sportsbeat)