Northampton-based Frank Bruno Foundation hoping to build on success with first official corporate sponsor

Desire to raise awareness of mental health issues in the construction sector with builders' merchants partnership

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 1:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 1:10 pm

The Frank Bruno Foundation is hoping to raise awareness of mental health issues in the construction sector with its first official corporate sponsor.

The Northampton-based charity has agreed a partnership with builders’ merchants Buttle’s, which has four branches in St Albans, Enfield, Kentish Town, and Leighton Buzzard.

The foundation was launched by the British boxing legend earlier this year to provide a safe environment for people aged 13 and above to improve their mental wellbeing and support their recovery.

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(L-R) Frank Bruno Foundation chief executive Nick Smith, Buttle’s managing director Ian Church, Frank Bruno, Buttle’s commercial manager Hannah Brunton, and Frank Bruno Foundation chief operations officer Brandon Eldred. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds

Buttle’s managing director Ian Church said: “Frank is a national treasure, and we are proud to be able to support the wonderful work his foundation is undertaking.

"As a family-owned business that upholds those values, we feel the foundation is a perfect fit for us, our customers, supply chain and employees.

"Mental health can affect anyone, and it’s widely recognised that the construction industry isn’t without its own challenges on this issue."

Commercial manager Hannah Brunton added: “Mental health has been a taboo subject to too long, not least in the building and construction trade.

(L-R) Buttle’s managing director Ian Church, Lucy Bayes, and Buttle’s commercial manager Hannah Brunton. Photo: Kirsty Edmonds

"But that stigma is being eroded and we want to help break down further barriers.”

The Frank Bruno Foundation delivers a 12-week wellbeing and non-contact boxing programme, called Round by Round, which is complemented by a support service.

It has been developed for anyone aged 13 and above with a considered early assessment-led from the age of 10.

Building self-esteem, confidence, resilience, and discipline are key ambitions the foundation sets out to achieve with programme participants, while also raising public awareness of mental ill health.

Foundation chief executive Nick Smith said: “Based on Frank’s name and reputation, we have to have people on board who are morally and ethically aligned to our foundation goals.

“We have had a great deal of corporate support with the construction and development of this site but Buttle’s are one of the very first to come and speak to us since we have been open.

"The enthusiasm we have had from Ian, Hannah and the entire Buttle’s team since day one has been absolutely captivating.”

Although Bruno won the WBC heavyweight title in 1995 and scored 38 knockouts in 40 wins, he faced challenges both inside and outside the ring, which ignited his passion for giving something back to the community.

“Exercise is great and helps to get the endorphins going around your body. Mental health can be likened to a boiling kettle," he said.

"The more the kettle boils, and builds up, it bubbles over. If you can avoid filling the kettle too much and keep it to a certain level, you will hopefully be alright.

“Everyone’s been through some form of anxiety, depression, relationship break up or some stress in their life, and their way of dealing with it is important.

"That’s why we have brought in boxing and 12 rounds of good boxing – we’re not here to belittle anybody, but to give them confidence and leave a session feeling good about themselves."

Nick said the foundation's programme gives participants an opportunity to harness the mental health problems with which they identify.

“Rather than leading into gang culture and drugs and other misdemeanours that they could go into, boxing has a massive appeal for males and females," he explained.

"The course we offer might be the only time these youngsters are given instruction which they follow in their whole life.

"They will carry that with them outside the ring and into society and it will make them stronger.”

Lucy Bayes, 19, from Wellingborough, has benefitted enormously from the foundation’s help since being accepted onto the programme.

“The foundation’s course covers loads of different topics about mental health, fitness, and nutrition and it is really helpful for a lot of people," she said.

"I struggled with mental health for several years - I’ve been hospitalised in the past and really struggled without much support from community teams.

"Having a place where you can come that actually helps you is brilliant.

“What Frank is doing is amazing. He is raising awareness for mental health which is a massive thing, and we need more people to learn from his example.”

Through the partnership, the Buttle’s team will explore fundraising opportunities to help develop the opportunities for the foundation to prosper, with Ian calling on more people to follow Frank’s lead.

“It is fantastic that there are people like Frank around who are prepared to put something back - to actually put their name to, get behind, and recognise the fact that not all people are born equal," he said.

"Particularly over the past 15 months, we have all gone through this horrendous Covid situation.

"It has put everything in perspective, but I do sense there is probably now an even bigger demand for the foundation.”