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2022 Reflections With Adam Ballard and Ben Eckett

As 2022 draws to a close, we sat down with Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogi’s UK founders and directors, Adam Ballard and Ben Eckett to talk reflections and lessons, and what we can expect in 2023.

 

 

Talk us through how this year has been for Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogi’s UK?

Ben: This year has been a year of positivity and growth for us. We’ve seen some of our contracts extended with councils and local authorities and we’ve received new funding which has been great after having a difficult year in 2021. In 2022 we have expanded our services in schools, implemented and developed new systems, and built structure and consistency within the team and organisation.

Adam: 2022 has been the year I was able to take my role full-time, which has been a huge relief. Taking the leap has been the best thing as before I was struggling to juggle everything. Now, I’ve got more time to develop and grow the organisation. There are moments in life when you’ve got to just throw caution to the wind and thankfully this has worked out.

 

Training session with MMA and UFC star, Ian Garry at the Gloves Not Gunz Boxing HQ

How have the Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogi’s UK teams developed over the past 12-months?

Ben: This year we decided to get Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogi’s together which we’ve never done before so it’s been really nice to see how both organisations can help each other. We’ve also hired new people who have proven to be great additions to the teams.

Adam: We’ve continued to employ young people which is personally one of my favourite things we get to do, as we can offer them an opportunity they may not get elsewhere.

 

A taster boxing session at our Community Day in August | image by Bevin Sutherland

What have been some of the challenges that you’ve faced this year?

Adam: One of the challenges we’ve faced has been engaging with other community groups in Croydon and some of the politics in the work we do.

Ben: The challenges and politics can make you feel frustrated and angry, but you have to realise that it’s not worth it and we just need to focus on what we’re doing.

 

Where would you like Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogi’s UK to be this time next year?

Ben: In 2023 we’re really focusing on expansion – expanding both the team and our services and programmes. We’ve got some really exciting things in the pipeline that we can’t wait to roll out and we’re looking forward to continuing to change young people’s lives.

Adam: Yes, we definitely want to expand across the country too, with the plan to perhaps go international as well. We’ve got big plans for the next year, which is exciting.

 

Training session with MMA and UFC star, Ian Garry at the Gloves Not Gunz Boxing HQ

What three words sum up 2022 for you?

Both: Progressive, Innovative and Reflective

 

GNG and UYUK Community Day in August | image by Bevin Sutherland

 

 

2022 has been another successful and transformative year for Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogi’s UK. We’d like to thank everyone who has used our services, attended our programmes, supported us, and worked with us to inspire and create positive change. We look forward to 2023 and another year of success with our team, young people, partners, sponsors, and ambassadors.  

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogi’s UK!

 

To find out more about Gloves Not Gunz visit the website here and keep up to date on Twitter and Instagram.

To find out more about Urban Yogi’s UK visit the website here and keep posted for updates on Twitter and Instagram.

Roles ‘n’ Role Models: Q&A with Romario Simpson

Physical fitness, movement and breath have always been important to Romario Simpson, one of our youth mentors at Gloves Not Gunz (GNG) and a yoga teacher with Urban Yogis UK (UYUK). From competing in a national gym competition as a teenager, to graduating as a professional actor from The Academy Of Live & Recorded Arts in his twenties, Romario’s humble enthusiasm and self-motivation makes him a true role model. Romario’s big smile matches his compassionate, fun-lovin’ spirit…. And for anyone who’s met him, you’ll agree his warmth and positive energy is authentic as it is infectious.

As Croydon community gathered at the Boxing Club to celebrate Gloves Not Gunz and Urban Yogis UK turning five in August ’22, we sat with Romario to chat about his role, the importance of breath, and how yoga can help young people in the UK.

That Smile… Romario in Tree Pose at our Community Day in August | image by Bevin Sutherland

Tell us about yourself and your role at GNG and UYUK?
Hello, my name is Romario and I am a youth mentor with Gloves Not Gunz and a yoga teacher with Urban Yogis UK.

Community Day UYUK

Celebrating UYUK and GNG Community Day 2022, image by Bevin Sutherland

How did you get involved with GNG and UYUK?
It began during the first lockdown. I used to do a security job, and then lockdown happened and everything shut down. I thought: ‘What more can I give?’, and I’ve always been interested in youth work because I grew up in a community that was under privileged and I had a lot of negative influences and no role models. So I thought I’d like to be a role model to these youths growing up, and got involved with Gloves Not Gunz.

GNG saw the passion in me, and they trained me up with health and safety and then trained me to be a yoga teacher. I completed my qualification in October 2021, so it’s almost been a year since I’ve been teaching.

Community Day Romario Simpson

An inspiring role model: Romario leads a Yoga Session during Community Day 2022 | image by Bevin Sutherland

What are the challenges that exist for young people in UK, and how can a discipline like a martial arts or yoga help?
I think a lot of the challenges for young people in the UK is the influence of social media, and how much it can change a young person’s perception—how much it can influence their everyday decision making.

A practice like yoga can help just calm the mind and bring people back to self, because it is hard to take time for self.

When young people take that five or ten minutes just to breathe, that can help their psyche in not letting all these influences corrupt them.

0Romario Demonstrates Seated Twist in a Group Yoga Sesh at Community Day 2022 | image by Bevin Sutherland

Who is your role model?
My role model is the incredible actor Denzel Washington. He has nothing but positive things to say to the world and he uses his influence to do so. Big up Denzel!

Follow Urban Yogis UK on Instagram, here. 

Follow Gloves Not Gunz on Instagram, here.

Romario Simpson

Side by Side: Coming Together at Community Day 2022 | image by Bevin Sutherland

Images by Bevin Sutherland