A FREE boxing programme is helping young Ukrainian refugees settle into their new lives.

Youngsters who fled the war in Ukraine earlier this year enjoyed the fourth week of their free boxing programme at The Hub in Eastleigh on Sunday.

Organised by the national initiative, BoxWise, and Eastleigh Boxing Club, the attendees are put through their paces for a total of ten weeks to help them transition to life in the UK and develop their boxing skills.

'We have a lot of appreciation'

Sisters Olena Chernova, 16, and Yaroslava Chernova, 14, joined the programme after moving to Bishopstoke in April.

Olena said: “I like sports and we had some lessons on boxing in Ukraine, so it’s not a new sport for us.”

Daily Echo: Sisters Olena Chernova (right) and Yaroslava ChernovaSisters Olena Chernova (right) and Yaroslava Chernova

Yaroslava joked: “I like boxing because I express my emotional state through the physical and punch my sister.

“I feel better after boxing.”

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Around eight children hook and jab every Sunday, taking part in a range of exercises and activities to further their skills as young athletes.

Oleh Chyrva, 12, who moved to Colden Common with his mum this year, is one of them.

He said: “I like the club as there are many Ukrainians here and it is super fun.”

Daily Echo: Youngsters enjoying the free boxing session at The Hub in Eastleigh on Sunday, August 14Youngsters enjoying the free boxing session at The Hub in Eastleigh on Sunday, August 14

His mother Olha Chyrva said: “It is important for the exercise and so Oleh can meet other children.

“He gets to mix with people outside of the village. Oleh had leukaemia as a child so he spent a lot of time indoors but now he is exercising.

“This is very important for us and we think it is amazing. It is very kind that they have offered this.

“We have a lot of appreciation.”

'Positive impact'

Owner of Eastleigh Boxing Club and coach Stuart Rooney said this weekly programme is all about creating something positive within the community.

He said: “It has been fantastic to see lots of happy, smiling faces.

“For us, it’s about making a positive impact within the community and making these Ukrainian families feel welcome. It has been really rewarding.

Daily Echo: Eastleigh Boxing Club's Stuart Rooney (right) with BoxWise's Scott LovelookEastleigh Boxing Club's Stuart Rooney (right) with BoxWise's Scott Lovelook

“We believe the numbers will continue to grow and we will gain even more interest.”

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Working with police and social services, BoxWise helps vulnerable under-25-year-olds and provides boxing training and mentorship.

BoxWise’s Scott Lovelook said these sessions don’t only provide boxing skills.

Daily Echo: Youngsters enjoying the free boxing session at The Hub in Eastleigh on Sunday, August 14Youngsters enjoying the free boxing session at The Hub in Eastleigh on Sunday, August 14

He said: “This is such an amazing project to be a part of and you see the positive development of these young people.

“Boxing has given kids an outlet to let their aggression out and something they can focus on within the club.”

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