A GROUP using boxing to help people with mental health issues has been given a fighting chance of winning a prestigious award.

The Weymouth-based Fight Back Mental Health group has been awarded a local NHS Hero Award for its work.

The team behind Fight Back Mental Health is now waiting to hear if they will win the annual Dorset Hero Award, which will lead to them being entered in the national awards.

Fight Back Mental Health was set up by three NHS mental health support workers Lewis Chambers, Vaughan Fellows and Matthew Rees.

They saw first-hand the power of exercise as a recovery treatment and wanted to create something that pushed this further.

With the support of the Weymouth Amateur Boxing Committee, Fight Back Mental Health was formed, encouraging mental health patients to meet and reap the benefits of an invigorating boxing training session.

Vaughan Fellows said: “Not only are we aware of the benefits of exercise when it comes to mental health, but we are also really keen to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.”

Club members come from all walks of life, with a wide range of mental health issues, but when they step into the gym all are equal and the focus is on the training session.”

Since January 2014, Fight Back Mental Health has grown in popularity with around 10 to 30 people attending the Monday sessions.

More than 700 patients carers, nurses, family and friends have been part of the group and many highlight a sense of confidence and achievement to their time with the group.

Lewis Chambers said: “It’s great to be recognised in Dorset for the work we’re doing. We’ve got a really varied group of members and the positive impact boxing has on them is great to see.

“We’re starting to get more recognition nationally and even have a few famous boxers that follow us and interact on Instagram - @fight.back.mental.health”

Matt Reece added: “It has been very satisfying to see the progress of our attendees. We know we’re making a difference when we see our boxers participate in group sessions.”

The NHS Hero Awards are designed to recognise members of the NHS that have gone the extra mile for their patients.

Fight Back Mental Health has been awarded the hero accolade in the ‘Improving Lives’ category, highlighting the team’s commitment to pushing further for their patients and reducing stigma associated with mental health.

The annual awards are announced in September and the team hopes to win and move into the national awards.

To find out more about the group see the Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @FightBackMH