Empire Fighting Chance

“You can literally change your mental health here and that’s what I’ve done”

South West

Charity Location


Grant Size

3 Years

Funding Period 

Our Partnership

Just outside of Bristol City Centre is Empire Fighting Chance, a boxing gym with a difference. The gym not only serves as a community boxing gym, but is also home to a charity which makes a huge difference to young people in the local community.

Empire Fighting Chance, or ‘Empire’ as it’s known in the community, supports disadvantaged young people experiencing behavioural and psychological issues. Through a combination of non-contact boxing, mentoring and intensive personal development support, they challenge and inspire young people to realise their unique potential.


Boxing as Therapy

The charity’s members have a range of complex challenges including depression, high anxiety and low confidence, with some having experienced adverse childhood experiences and others committing crime. The funding from Lloyds Bank Foundation has enabled them to expand their Training for Champions Programme and Boxing Therapy allowing them to reach more young people across Bristol.

The Training for Champions Programme offers one-to-one support through a 20-week programme. Each week the charity delivers non-contact boxing interlaced with personal development messages. These can be anything from managing mood, understanding emotions, healthy eating and setting mini goals.

Boxing Therapy is a new initiative which the charity launched in 2019. With the funding they have received they have employed a trained therapist who has received training to be a boxing coach, meaning that therapy can take place at the gym. They have found that taking the therapy sessions out of a traditional environment allows the young people they support to engage and communicate more openly with the therapist. 


WATCH: Empire Fighting Chance from Lloyds Bank Foundation.


How Empire Supports Young People 

Many of the young people that come to Empire Fighting Chance, especially on the Training for Champions Programme, come from the local community such as St Pauls and Easton. This means that other members of the community are already starting to see a huge impact of the charity’s positive work. Chloe is one of the young people supported by the charity, she found that traditional counselling didn’t work for her:


“I’d had counselling multiple times and the fact I’d had it a few times maybe meant it wasn’t for me, which meant issues weren’t getting resolved as they have been here [Empire].... here I get to learn a new skill you don’t feel pressured to talk about your feelings you just come out with it when boxing”


Chloe first came to Empire after struggling with her anger and has been supported through the charity:

“I had an incident, my anger became quite bad and I had to get stitches in my hand, but since coming here [Empire] I haven’t lashed out since. That incident was the breaking point for me, and it was suggested I came here… As soon as I started coming here I’d come out of a session and I’d feel relieved and instead of it all being built up inside me and I’d explode I get my adrenaline out in a better place through boxing and talking. My anxiety has reduced, my anger has reduced, and I got into uni and that’s a massive deal… and that’s because my A-Levels improved from my mental health improving here”

Empire has a team of coaches to support the young people who come to the charity as well as team members who help with careers, family liaison and specialist therapists. Chloe was supported by Courtney, one of the Coaches at Empire:

I work a lot with young people who have anxiety which can be a cause of their anger, so it’s about getting to the root cause of what’s making them feel like that… Every young person has a story to tell and I try to listen to that story, it can get quite complex... Sometimes they just want someone to listen to them, I don’t try and change anything, I don’t try and give advice, they just want to be listened to, because whether they’re not getting that at home or at school, if they can feel comfortable enough to tell me about it then I’m all ears.




What's Next for Empire

Chloe is just one of the 4,500 young people that Empire supported in 2019. Jamie, the charity’s Head of Business Development has played a huge role in the growth of the charity and he has received development support from Lloyds Banking Group:


“The additional support such as mentoring has been invaluable especially to a growing charity like us. I am getting mentoring which is really helpful. I have a weekly meeting with a partner from the Continuous Improvement Team at Lloyds Bank, and other members of our senior team are also receiving support. It is been a great addition.“


The Continuous Improvement Team focuses on problem-solving and effectiveness across the bank’s operations. The programme with the team supports local charities such as Empire through training and one to one coaching support.

Jamie and the team have big ideas for the future of the charity as they continue to support young people in Bristol and beyond:

“The way things are going, Empire is looking at national scale, training other organisations up to deliver our programme, working in new areas, working with more partners. Hopefully, that is what the future holds for Empire.”

“As soon as I started coming here I’d come out of a session and I’d feel relieved and instead of it all being built up inside me and I’d explode I get my adrenaline out in a better place through boxing and talking”

Chloe, Young Person Supported by Empire Fighting Chance

What do we mean by Mental Health?

People who are managing mental health problems resulting in significant disruption to everyday living or in recovery from an episode of such problems occurring in the last two years.

Our impact on mental health in 2019


new grants addressing mental health issues


people with mental ill health supported through our funded charities


total invested in small and local charities addressing mental ill health

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We’re more than just a funder

We work in partnership with small and local charities. We are committed to funding them for longer, providing development support and influencing policy. Through this partnership, we help charities help more people dealing with complex social issues and help charities to be stronger and improve wider policy and practice.

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