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Frank Bruno visits Poplar to support project that steers unemployed young people away from trouble

PUBLISHED: 15:03 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:48 06 June 2019

Frank Bruno was in Poplar today to support the sports-themed project. Pic: Simon Winson

Frank Bruno was in Poplar today to support the sports-themed project. Pic: Simon Winson

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Boxing legend Frank Bruno MBE visited Poplar today to throw his support behind a sports programme that helps unemployed young people get back on track.

Participants living in Tower Hamlets graduated today. Pic: Simon WinsonParticipants living in Tower Hamlets graduated today. Pic: Simon Winson

The former heavy weight world champion, who is also a mental health campaigner, was at Bartlett Park to join in the celebrations as 15 people graduated from the Street Elite project.

Run by The Change Foundation, with support from the Berkeley Foundation, the nine-month training for work scheme has now helped 400 unemployed young people across London.

Many of those on the scheme, which began in 2012, have been excluded from school, been in trouble with the police or on the cusp of being caught up in gangs.

Young participants from Tower Hamlets were recruited through walk-arounds on housing estates or referred by previous graduates.

Participants living in Tower Hamlets graduated today. Pic: Simon WinsonParticipants living in Tower Hamlets graduated today. Pic: Simon Winson

Frank said: "I grew up in London. It can be a tough city and talented young people can go off the tracks.

"Street Elite is about giving them a focus and real self-belief.

"It's a life-changing project and shows the huge power of sport and mentoring.

"Together they can strengthen your mind, your self-esteem and connect you with other people. It's important for young men to come together and talk openly about their wellbeing."

The scheme's qualified sports coaches work closely with councils to recruit young people who are classified as Not in Education, Employment of Training (NEET) like Yasin who now wants a career in accountancy.

He said: "Before Street Elite I was just hanging around outside on the street doing nothing with my

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time or sitting at home watching TV bored.

"Since joining Street Elite, I have enjoyed making new friends and have something positive to focus on.

"After Street Elite I'd like to go back to playing regular sports and I'm looking to get into accountancy."

Around 84per cent of those who complete the programme successfully move into education or employment.

Navjeet Sira, director of design and impact at The Change Foundation, said: "We have a very high success rate when it comes to getting graduates into work or further education because our qualified sports coaches work hard on the ground in the heart of the local community for nine months at a time.

"The work they do is more than a job, it is a lifestyle, and I cannot commend them highly enough."

Rob Perrins, chief executive of the Berkeley Group, added:

"Street Elite targets young people who have been left behind. It uses the power of sport to reengage them and build their self-belief. It changes lives and it helps employers like

Berkeley recruit talented young people who bring a whole new dimension to their business."

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