I want to share something truly inspiring with you all. A real life story of someone who has done/is doing something amazing. That person is Knowlton Crichlow.

I was lucky enough to meet Knolly about two years ago, purely by chance, in a brilliant building called the Tabernacle in Notting Hill. We got talking and he asked whether I would be interested in attending his new boxing classes at the venue. At the time, fitness really wasn’t on my agenda. Sure, I walked and I danced – but it was by meeting this amazing human, that I was inspired to re-explore this forgotten passion of mine.

But that’s what not this story is about. I started attending his classes and I fell in love with the friendship, camaraderie and love with which he ran his classes. We quickly realised that we saw the world in a very similar way, and so we became friends. The more I discovered about Knolly, the more amazing I realised he was.

You see fitness wasn’t his day job. He was massively involved in youth work and in the community, in a way you rarely find in young people. He is passionately committed to the development of the community and the humans that live within it. This commitment echoes that of his father, the late and extremely great Frank Crichlow, whose legacy I learnt of through my friendship with Knolly. So you see, this incredible spirit truly is in his blood.

Knolly had always dreamed of opening a children’s home. Creating something tangible, built upon a foundation of love, that would truly support the development of young people. He believed(s) firmly that young people need so much more than we are giving them, and that, by providing an inspiring environment for them to grow in, we can catapult them into creating the kind of futures they really deserve. And he’s right. He wanted to create a project that would genuinely revolutionise the focus for young people in the ‘care’ system. Shifting that focus to one of empowerment and development. Amazing.

When he first mentioned it to me – I could only imagine a minefield of processes, checks and red tape he might need to go through to make it happen. But make it happen he has. And I could not be prouder to share it all with you. Here are some words from Children of The Mangrove about Maroon House, which I think explain better than I ever could, just who they are and what they stand for:

“Children of The Mangrove aim to provide outstanding service for young people in the residential care sector. We endeavour to treat young people as individuals, empower them with a strong sense of self, and uphold their dignity during their most vulnerable time. Maintaining a person centered approach, we will provide the social, emotional, recreational and academic support young people need to achieve self-actualization. To prepare young people in being active, outstanding members of society in the future, we will expose them to the concept of community and responsibility displayed by both our business model and our ethos.

We are committed to changing the sector. We are not just a service provider in the residential care market, but a home and a work force committed to a higher purpose, steeped in a legacy of uplifting those most vulnerable in society. We will create an environment, distinct from the sterile, generic ones provided in the sector, along with the cheap optimism of ‘satisfactory’ levels of care. We will be ‘outstanding’ in our efforts to instil genuine hope and opportunities to young people we know need and deserve it.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I 100% believe they can achieve it. And I can’t wait to see the results.

I’m sharing this with you all just in case it ignites that spark of intrigue or inspiration, whether that be to support the project you read of here, or whether that be for you to explore making that idea you have been sitting on happen. A project that’s built upon love as it’s primary foundation, is a force to be reckoned with indeed.

And to Knolly and the team, well done and good luck with your fabulous new project. You have inspired me immensely, and I’m sure will continue to inspire others. Most important of all: the children in your care will be incredibly lucky to have you.

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