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Case Studies

Brightstar Boxing Academy has helped many vulnerable people. We wanted to share with you some of their stories.


Ben: Empowering Positive Changes

Age  10

Brightstar has helped many vulnerable people to find the strength to empower themselves, turn their lives around and set about fulfilling their life ambitions. We love to bring you these success stories and today we focus on Ben and his mum.

Brightstar has helped many vulnerable people to find the strength to empower themselves, turn their lives around and set about fulfilling their life ambitions. We love to bring you these success stories and today we focus on Ben and his mum.

Ben, now aged 10, was referred to us a little over a year ago, starting at Brightstar in April 2023. He has made amazing progress over the last 12 months - to the point where his mum now says “Brightstar has changed his life . . . and mine. I now feel that I’ve got my old boy back.” Ben attends Brightstar in Shifnal four times a week. We asked Ben* and his mum to tell us about their journey and this is what they said.

*Please note that the name has been changed for safeguarding reasons.

Q: How did you get involved with Brightstar?

Mum: “Ben* had quite a few struggles through primary school and they suggested that as a last resort we try Brightstar and see if their Futures Programme would be a help to him. Ben* has been on the programme since last April and it’s made an incredible change to his life.”

Q: How has it helped?
Mum: “Ben* has learnt how to manage his anger in a positive way through coping mechanisms and boxing has helped him massively.

The difference really has been amazing and it has made a difference to me as well. I don’t know where he or I would have been if it hadn’t been for the Futures Programme.

Ben*'s Mum

“He had a few little hiccups to start with because he struggles with change, but after the first few weeks and with him getting into the programme, things really took off - they now call him ‘the little champ’ at Brightstar. He just succeeds there now, it’s been great for him.”

Q: Tell us more about that journey?
Mum: “The programme includes education and motivation, giving him more confidence. He had lacked self-esteem and thought very badly about himself. We don’t get any of that anymore - it’s brought him a lot of confidence and better control, he now knows his anger and his feelings, which makes things much more manageable for him.

“Ben* doesn’t feel alone anymore, he knows how to manage things in a positive way, and his vocabulary has improved. He was very verbal, his language was next level for his age and he was very physical with anyone around him. He would lash out, pick up any object and throw it - regardless of who was in front of him.

“He also had suicidal thoughts which was particularly alarming for his age and he got to the point where he kept telling me to call the police because he wanted to be taken away, knowing that he needed help. That was a pivotal moment and was when all the avenues came together: the school, doctors and Brightstar. Since then he has turned a corner massively.

“My mental health was suffering and while I know it sounds horrible, I really felt that I was nearing the point of giving up. It was all too much. He would lash out at his siblings and I couldn’t leave him in a room without him attacking people. It was a very, very, hard time.”

Q: What are things like now?
Mum: “It’s been a long journey with Ben, an extremely long five-year stretch to be honest, a long fight trying to get him the help he needed and Brightstar have been amazing - I just wish I had known about them before. Things are totally different now. A lot more optimistic. He is still on medication and under a mental health team. Things can be controlled now, there is a structure in place and much easier than they were prior to last April. I can honestly say that I have been inspired by the progress he has made. I am so proud of him. He has transformed his life. He has been empowered by Brightstar and I now feel empowered by him. I’ve now got my old son back.

“Brightstar has changed his life. He had a coach called Mitch who was there from the start and Ben developed a really strong bond with him. He empowered Ben* as well. I also took part in one of the programmes run by Brightstar called Sporting Maths, which helps carers and parents to improve their maths so they can gain confidence in helping their children with their school work.

“Brightstar has a fantastic team and can’t do enough for the children there. They are always thinking positively and there is never any negative aspect about the place. It’s always filled with so much joy and it’s lovely to meet up with and chat to other parents in similar situations. It makes you understand that you are not alone.”

Ben*'s Mum

We thought it would be a good idea to get Ben’s* take on the last year:

Q: Could you tell us what things were like before going to Brightstar?

Ben: “It has helped me so much going to Brightstar over the last year. It has helped my mum a lot too because she really struggled with me for about five years. I got so bad that I smashed glasses, my wall, my door. It was like if I found an object next to me I would use it. “It was just something in me that triggered and I couldn’t get out of it. When I got angry my mum would ask me what happened and I didn’t know, I couldn’t tell her. Something just took over my mind and I couldn’t seem to remember afterwards what had caused it. “Before I went to Brightstar I did martial arts and boxing but I lost my martial arts licence because when I got angry I was using that on my siblings - I would have been five or six years old then.”

Q: How has Brightstar helped you?

Ben: “I love going to Brightstar, they have helped me so much. I came on such a lot
in the past year. I have learnt how to control my anger and while I still get a few
wobbles, things are so much better.

I have learnt how to control my anger and while I still get a few
wobbles, things are so much better.


Q: What do you do at Brightstar?
Ben: “When I go to Brightstar, I do English and maths there and mentoring. I have done my boxing coaching course, so I can help the people at Brightstar with that when they are coaching the other children. I am more confident and Brightstar is amazing, it’s been helpful to me and they really care for me.

Q: What are your hopes for the future?

Ben: “I would like to get into amateur boxing. Sometimes I get a bit off-track if I get stressed or tired and tend to think that maybe I won’t be able to make it into the amateur squad, but I’m going to keep trying and working hard at it.”

I was always very angry, and this led to people saying I was a troublemaker or misbehaving. I often made myself look like a fool to impress people I thought were my friends, it helped me feel like I fitted in and gave other people a sense of joy. Even if they laughed for just a little while, it made me feel involved and happy, knowing I had made them laugh.

After this continued for a while, I became known for this behaviour. When I was kicked out of school, I developed a reputation that I thought I had to live up to, my anger and mental health worsened, and I found it hard to see a way out.

When I wasn’t at school anymore, the people who I thought were my friends, no longer cared about me. This alongside issues that I was struggling to deal with in my personal life took a huge toll on my mental health and I did things that I am not proud of.

The new school I was placed at had a link with Bright Star and I was given the opportunity to attend the Futures programme twice a week. I didn’t think that I would like it to be honest and I get very nervous in groups, but when I walked through the doors I was made to feel at home. Almost straight away when the coaches and other people spoke to me I felt like I belonged somewhere – the coaches and others understood me and just got it.

At the start I just wanted to hit the bags and let my emotions out, but the coaches taught me about control and how to manage my feelings. They sat me down and I felt like I could talk to them about things that were on my mind – this was very scary as I hadn’t told anyone some of these things before. It made my life feel 100X easier – I felt in control and like I could manage everything. It made home life easier too as there were no more arguments.

I proved myself wrong on many occasions as I showed that I could achieve, I got 3 qualifications in just the first term.

I now have huge goals that I know I will achieve. I am so happy and am now training with the squad too. I am introducing more people who need support to the club and have helped the coaches in schools. My life where I want it to be. 

Arron McAllister

Amateur Boxer

Up until a year ago, life was very dull. I worked all week and drank away every penny I had at the weekend. I became alcohol dependent and struggled to have a positive relationship with my son.

I joined Bright star in January 18, I needed to try and come away from alcohol and heard about how they had supported others. The club made me see much more to life, I could do something positive and they made me want to be a better person.

I now train most evenings and my son who is 7 is also a member of Bright Star. We train together at home almost every night. We are so close now and hearing him say he is proud of me for my boxing is an incredible feeling. 

I have lost so much weight and have been clean for 8 months. I have just made it into the Amateur squad because of the hard work I have been putting in and how much I've improved. I am also running to help with my fitness and my life outside of boxing has improved so much because of this.

Kat Stanworth

Amateur boxer

About 7 years ago I had mental health issues and ended up in a rehab facility, at the time I weighed 26 stone and I decided it was time to change my life. 

I joined a gym and 3 years ago started boxing. Last year my mom passed away and I felt signs of depression coming back, however I was able to go to the gym and channel my energy into boxing.

I've lost 14 stone and have fell in love with boxing. Bright Star is a place where we are all family.


Junior Boxer

Age  16

I've always struggled with my fears, especially crowds. It's stopped me doing a lot of things and combined with ADHD has led to me getting into a lot of trouble. I have been expelled from school and been involved with the police. My anger was really unstable, I often hurt myself by hitting walls in frustration or lost close friends because I didn't feel in control.

I was referred to Bright Star and at first I didn't think it was a good idea because of my social fears. But the coaches opened up the doors when the gym was closed and did one to one training with me until I felt comfortable at the club, they then slowly got me used to boxing with people around, by doing one to one pad work whilst the sessions were happening around me. They didn't just teach me to box, they made it feel like a family and told me different ways of dealing with my anger and overcoming my anxiety.

In just 5 months I have evolved. I look forward to the boxing sessions and am getting so good. I have a punch bag at home, which is great for practice and for channeling my anger. I deal with bad situations so much better. I train hard and now when we have newcomers I like to help show them the basics too.

Because of boxing my confidence has grown so much that I had the courage to ask out a girl who I would have never of dreamed of even trying to talk to before, she's now my girlfriend and will come and watch me box in my first bout when I'm ready. I've overcome my fear of crowds too... boxing has helped me overcome all of my fears... nothing will stop me now!


Junior Boxer

Age  14

I was referred to Bright Star after getting in lots of trouble at school and in my care home. I had a lot of aggression which I couldn't control. 

Boxing has taught me respect. I've learnt if I react on aggression in the ring and not control my anger I get hurt and this is the same in life. 

I'm still learning, but I am able to deal with situations in life better and feel part of the Bright Star family which is important to me coming from a care home.

I'm now helping coach other boxers who struggle with their anger like I was.

Emma Dall

Boxer and Coach

When I started boxing I had no confidence and was very nervous. But at Bright Star I quickly felt like one of the family. 

My confidence grew so much and I even introduced my four children to boxing. It's helped with their anxiety and asthma too. Last year, I was also lucky enough to meet my now, fiancé at Bright Star. 

I never thought I would be able to stand in front of a room full of people and talk. I now coach and lead our mini-star session. 

Simon Lewis

Bright Star Boxer

Due to massive lifestyle changes I became alcohol dependent around 6 years ago. My anxiety was through the roof, I was so angry at everything and I felt so alone.

The alcohol, anger and anxiety lead to me not having a strong relationship with my twins who are very young. My fiancée left me because I was out of control and a couple of months ago I almost ended my life.

I saw an article in the Shropshire Star about Bright Star starting Counterpunch sessions for people with poor mental health, I was willing to try anything.

I could relate so much to everyone's story and combined with boxing I started to control my anger. A few months on and I am now boxing at bright star 3 times a week plus putting in extra work at home.

I no longer need counselling and last weekend my fiancée moved back in with me and said she has seen some amazing changes. I have the best relationship with my kids ever and have so many goals around boxing. 

I want to inspire others to take the same steps that I have.

Stu Cook

Amateur boxer

I was in a very low place, I was diagnosed with PTSD, I almost lost my family and tried to take my own life, twice. My anger became a real - issue. 

A friend suggested I try boxing with Bright Star to help my recovery.

Since boxing I have been able to control my anger and have lost over 6 stone. I am able to live my life with no medication or counselling.

Me and my wife are extremely happy and I am able to be the dad my kids need.

Kallum Manders

Aspiring Amateur Boxer

Since the age of 12 all I had known was a life heavily involved with drugs. 100 days ago today my life hit rock bottom and I knew it was time for a change.

I went to rehab but once I finished I was left with lots of time and was tempted by my past which is why I was referred to Bright Star. I instantly fell in love with Bright Star and now feel I have a real purpose.

I have a new positive friends group, great role models and boxing has become my life. I box almost every day, I am now 100 days clean and have no intention of turning back.


Bright Star Futures

Age  15

Keaton was disengaged in school, his attendance was very low and he would often walk out of lessons.

His anger was as he describes "out of control". He was referred to the Bright Star futures programme to help him manage his emotions and to reengage back into education

The Bright Star staff helped Keaton see a future vision and set goals related to this.

Within the first 6 months Keaton's attendance increased significantly and he did not leave his lessons, he said that this is because school is a huge part of his goals.

He now has coping mechanisms for his anger and his reacts on logic rather than emotion. School staff have said "we are so so proud of how focused and disciplined Keaton has become, he has made huge positive changes".

We are working with Keaton to help him gain a career as a mechanic and are very hopeful of him gaining an apprenticeship next year, this is something that he really wants to do and is working hard towards. Keaton says, "I now have the direction I have always needed in my life Bright star has given me a future".

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