£5,000 grant for Bedford charity working with young people at risk of gang and knife crime

The money will help Samson's Academy

A Bedford-based charity working with young people at risk of gang and knife crime has been awarded a £5,000 grant by the borough council's charitable trust.

Samson’s Academy helps people on low income, unemployed people, and people living in an area of deprivation.

It applied to the House of Industry Estate for help to fund office equipment - including equipment for those with sensory impairments

Bedford Borough Hall

The House of Industry Estate is charitable trust, with Bedford Borough Council as the sole trustee. The council has delegated its decision making to the members of the General Purpose Committee (the Trustees of the House of Industry Estate), which met on October 19.

The committee had considered this request for funding during its September meeting, when an award for the purchase of a hearing loop system was agreed - but additional information was required for the full application.

Mr Lee Phanco, chief officer for assessment, application & business, said, “We had a very helpful meeting with Mr Alexis and one of his colleagues via teams.

“They showed us around some of the facilities and provided more detailed information about how the equipment they requested would be used and how it would help people in need, hardship and distress.”

“The point that particularly stood out for me in terms of the work the charity does, is the focus on younger people that are at risk from gang related activities, knife crime, and those kinds of activities."

“I can't remember an organisation approaching the trust before that particularly specialised in assisting that group of people,” he added.

Dorian Alexis, the chief operating officer of Samson’s Academy, told the meeting that as well as running boxing, self-defence and other martial arts disciplines, the charity also has a team of therapists to work with those in need of help.

“We have a program called Resolution, which looks at working with young people who have been involved with gangs and youth criminality across Bedfordshire”, he said. “We have another program called Time to Train which works with young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) who are predominantly sofa surfing or living in hostels.”

Mr Alexis added that the academy also works with adults who are self-isolating (or are isolated due to loneliness) or have substance abuse issues.

Councillor Carl Meader (Labour Party, Kempston South Ward) said that he struggles to think of any councillor that doesn't know of Dorian Alexis and Samson’s Gym.

“I know the good work he’s done at Samson’s Gym,” he said. “And how many people he has taken off the streets.

“If this academy is just an extension of the work they've done through the gym, then I think we’d be foolish not to support this application.”

The trustees voted to grant £5,050 to Samson’s Academy.