Banbury gym lends its support to fight against drug and alcohol addiction

Banbury hub manager Matt Johnstone, owner of Spit'n'Sawdust gym Dave Earle, Amy Priest, Aspire employment & Development worker Jamie Hamilton and Adam White. NNL-150408-095957001
Banbury hub manager Matt Johnstone, owner of Spit'n'Sawdust gym Dave Earle, Amy Priest, Aspire employment & Development worker Jamie Hamilton and Adam White. NNL-150408-095957001

A boxing gym with a history of supporting Banbury youngsters from troubled backgrounds is now helping people take the fight to drug and alcohol addiction as part of a county-wide treatment program.

Spit ‘n’ Sawdust gym off North Bar Street, Banbury was set up in 2003 by five times Home Counties amateur boxing champ Dave Earle.

Since April the Coventry-born boxer and 2012 Olympic Torch bearer has been working with the Get Connected program, offering people with drug and alcohol addiction free boxercise classes.

As well as keeping fit, the classes aims to give people a sense of structure and a way of building their confidence.

Dave, 51, said: “My own family has a history of addiction and being amongst it I feel I can understand it. I have seen a lot of people who are just wasting their lives. I want people to see how they can have a new sense of direction.”

The classes are just one of a range of services run by Turning Point from its Banbury ‘hub’ at the town’s medical centre in partnership with Aspire Oxford.

Hub manager Matt Johnstone, said: “A lot of people in addiction are very isolated. We want to get people connected with every day interactions.”

The charities are working with about 300 people across Oxfordshire. One of these is 35 year-old Adam White. He said: “I had a stressful job for a long time as an insurance broker. For a long time I had depression and started drinking. I turned into a bit of a recluse really and I did not think I had any future.

“But now this [programme] is turning my life around. It’s been like a ripple effect, my family have noticed the change in me.”

Thirty one year-old Amy Priest was affected by drug addiction in her mid twenties. She has involved in the boxercise classes since they began in April and says she has also felt the positive impact alongside the other support services provided at the Banbury hub. She said: “It sets me up for the week really. It has given me a new start and a different life. It is so easy to get back into the old group and slip back into how you used to act. It’s about the people you spend time with.”

As people progress with their recovery, Aspire offer a range of training opportunities in one their social enterprises as well as CV writing and additional support.

For more information about the services offered at the Banbury hub, visit: http://www.turning-point.co.uk/oxfordshire-roads-to-recovery.