A NATIONAL showcase for the rehabilitation of offenders is being created in the countryside near Tenbury.
Thanks to a massive cash injection the facility is set to become a national centre pioneering a new way of getting troubled youngsters back on track.
Paddy Brennan, the founder of Tenbury Boxing Club, has moved the club to Bleathwood and is turning it into a complex that will be a pioneer in helping young people that have gone off the rails.
Sport England is providing a grant of £50,000 to extend The Bluestone Centre.
But Paddy Brennan says that he is committed to the Tenbury Boxing Club remaining a key element at the centre.
“I have put £70,000 into the boxing club and it will remain at the very heart of things,” said Mr Brennan.
But he is diversifying and is bidding for major contracts with both the prison and probation services.
This will involve troubled youngsters coming into the area to learn and train. It will also include a residential facility where the young people will be able to stay under supervision.
It is intended that the centre will become a model of how to help people that have got in trouble to turn their lives around.
Physical activities will be important but there will also be courses in trades including plumbing, plastering, bricklaying, engineering and horticulture.
It will also provide credits that will enable the young people to get into college and further education.
The ambitious project will also create a number of jobs for people from the local area.
“I want the young people to have a chance and learn that failure is not in falling down but failure lies in not getting up,” Mr Brennan said.
“We will be working with young offenders, both male and female, to show them that there is another way. To keep one person in prison for a year costs more than £200,000 and is such a waste.
“Prisons are an academy for crime where people become institutionalised. There are more drugs in prison that there are on the streets. How much better it is to allow these youngsters to learn a trade.”
Paddy Brennan was born in Northern Ireland and came to Birmingham with his family to escape the troubles.
The family lived on one of the toughest estates in the city and so he knows what it is like to be in a difficult situation.
“Boxing was so important to me and gave me self discipline and a sense of purpose. Had it not been for boxing I do not know what would have become of me,” Mr Brennan said.
“Most people who get in trouble are not bad people but have drawn a poor hand in life. It is not only kids from poor backgrounds that can go off the rails because those born into privilege can also get into trouble.
“Coming here will not be a soft option because there will be discipline and hard work but we will be providing hope and opportunity for people to build a better future.
“That has to be good for them and society in general.”