Third Sector Excellence Awards: Employee Innovation

Mind in Croydon Boxercise
Mind in Croydon Boxercise

Criteria:
For the member of staff who has proposed and had adopted an innovative idea for advancing or improving the work of the organisation

Judging panel:
Peter Atfield, HR director, Clic Sargent
John Burnell, director, Personnel Solutions
David Gold, chief executive, Prospectus
Elaine Willis, consultant

Finalists:
Chris Large, Global Action Plan
Pam Mather, South Yorkshire Community Foundation
Rachel Palmer, Save the Children
Michel Thizy, Mind in Croydon

Winner: Michel Thizy, Mind in Croydon
Mind in Croydon employee Michel Thizy's Boxercise programme, designed to improve the mental and physical health of the charity's beneficiaries, has been an outstanding success. The charity works with people with mental health problems, and the non-contact boxing programme is designed to improve participants' fitness levels, build their self-esteem, develop their social networks and help them live healthier lives.

Although the scheme is only in its infancy, it has already attracted a grant of £200,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, has been featured on the BBC's Sport Relief campaign and has been backed by the National Institute for Mental Health in England as a model of good practice in health improvement.
 
All those who have taken part in the project have lost weight and the general wellbeing of participants has improved.

Thizy has worked for the charity as a welfare benefit adviser and mental health advocate for more than 10 years. The idea came to him when he joined a gym run by Duke McKenzie, the former world champion boxer. As well as owning the gym, McKenzie is a  motivational speaker, and Thizy was inspired by his ability to engage with people. Thizy saw an opportunity that could benefit the people he worked with, many of whom had sedentary lifestyles and poor diets.
 
Thizy developed the Boxercise idea - which involves non-contact boxing training using pads and circuit training - and it was awarded a £6,000 grant from Croydon Primary Care Trust.
 
Thizy's commitment to the scheme extends to acting almost like a parent to those taking part in the project, by ensuring they attend each session of the 10-week course. Many participants have continued going to the gym once they have completed the Boxercise programme.
 
The judges were impressed by Thizy's "extraordinary commitment" to developing and running the scheme. "It's such a creative idea," said Peter Atfield. "It has made a huge difference to people in a very difficult area of work that has a really low profile."

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