Dee's story - YMCA DownsLink Group

Dee’s story

Dee at Hailsham boxing club smiling

Meet Dee. She dreams of being a champion. She wants to represent Britain as part of the GB boxing team and win medals. Despite facing many challenges as a teenager, with the support of YMCA DownsLink Group and Hailsham Boxing Club, she’s thriving and is working hard to turn her dreams into reality.


Dee is just 17 and has already experienced some hugely challenging events in her short life. School was hard for her and she left at 16 with no qualifications. Following a difficult breakdown with her family, she was referred to YMCA DownsLink Group who have given her a supportive home.

Dee takes up her story:

“Difficult things happened with my family which resulted in me moving into the YMCA. Everyone, including my social worker, thought this was the best option to be able to maintain a stable relationship with my family. Although it was a very challenging time, I was surrounded by the right people who helped me resolve my problems.

My main focus is on moving forward. I’m doing really well and have got a lot to look forward to. Since being at YMCA, I have learnt to build relationships, I have matured, I can problem solve and I feel that I am more independent.”

Dee training for boxing with her coachWhilst living with YMCA DownsLink Group, Dee was encouraged to get involved with the local boxing club. This has been life changing for Dee. With the support of the club Dee is hoping to participate in the DiSE programme, endorsed by England Boxing. DiSE (Level 3 Diploma in Sporting Excellence) offers aspiring boxers, aged 16 to 19, the chance to do serious boxing training, whilst also studying full-time to gain qualifications that will benefit them outside of the ring.

Hailsham Boxing Club have become affiliated with England Boxing so that Dee and others can take part in competitions. They are also working hard to find a college where Dee can take her English and Maths GCSE so that she can access the DiSE programme.

Michelle, volunteer at Hailsham Boxing Club says:

“Dee has the potential to go far, especially with her mindset. What was noticeable was how quickly she progressed. Within 3 months you could she her strength, fitness, and attitude change. When she first came here, she was so quiet. Now she’s chatty and very sociable. It’s brilliant to see.

Now she sees that there is hope and there is a different path for her. This is why we do what we do. This makes all the hours volunteering at the gym worthwhile.”

Michelle, Dee and Sam at Hailsham Boxing Club
Michelle, Dee and Sam at Hailsham Boxing Club

Boxing has become Dee’s passion:

“I like boxing because I’m able to get out everything that’s going on in my head in the right way and discipline myself. I want to be in the GB team, 100%. I want to be going out there and fighting for titles. That’s a bit of me, proper!”

Her keyworker Geraldine explains how Dee has thrived since she started living with given YMCA.

“We believe Dee is capable of so much, she has grown in every way and continues to inspire us all with her resilience and zest for life. Her smile lights up the house.”

Dee says: “I would recommend YMCA to others having difficulties as the team offer support in all areas and are so good with the residents. My main focus now is moving forward. I am doing really well and have a lot to look forward to. I can see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, good things come to those who wait so play the long game.”

We wish Dee every success and are really looking forward to seeing her on a podium soon.  


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