Co-op and Steel Warriors open new outdoor gym made from recycled knives in drive to reduce knife crime

27 September 2019

Anti-knife crime organisation, Steel Warriors launches its newest outdoor gym made from recycled knives in Ruskin Park, Lambeth built in partnership with community retailer, Co-op.

The new gym is the first of a 20-gym plan Co-op has committed to build by partnering with Steel Warriors, the charity which launched in 2017 by taking seized and surrendered knives off the streets of London and melting them down to build its inaugural calisthenics gym in Tower Hamlets.

Co-op Steel Warriors Lambeth

The gym is supported by the Co-op which has warned that the increasing lack of spaces for communities to come together puts young people at risk. Cuts by many Local authorities around the country are forcing councils to make tough decisions on which services to support, leading to the selling off of public buildings and parks at a rate of more than 4,000 a year nationally.

The newest Steel Warriors gym features certified personal training instructors offering three training sessions each week for a variety of abilities. The personal trainers serve as ambassadors, offering mentorship and support to young people within the local community.

Co-op Chief Membership Officer, Matt Atkinson said: “Creating and protecting community spaces where people meet, exercise, play, learn and laugh together is so important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Without these spaces people become isolated and less active and our young people are less safe on the streets.

“We feel strongly that as a business we have to try and do something to support our communities, to help them work together to improve where they live and keep their young people safe. We don’t have all the answers but by co-operating with others and building partnerships like this one with Steel Warriors, which has produced this fantastic outdoor gym made from knives taken off the streets, has to help.

"“As a businesses operating in pretty much every community across the UK, the Co-op sees first-hand the problems communities face and no issue worries people more right now than the tragedy of young lives taken on our streets by senseless stabbings. In London alone just this week we have seen more lives lost to knife crime."

Ben Wintour, co-founder of Steel Warriors, added: “Steel Warriors is incredibly grateful for the support from Co-op and our other pro bono supporters to expand our mission of building gyms from recycled knives. The gyms are designed to generate awareness of the rising issue of knife crime whilst offering young people a safe place to develop more physical and mental confidence to walk the streets unarmed. We hope that this 20-gym plan will make a tangible difference to the rising problem.”

The gym promotes calisthenics, which requires using your own body weight to perform a variety of movements to enhance strength and flexibility. The gym launch follows the recent move from Co-op to stop selling single pack knives in its stores, instead donating them to Steel Warriors, in a bid to help young people stay safe and develop their health and confidence.

Steel Warriors has enlisted calisthenics pioneers to promote the launch of the gym which has been carefully designed by expert engineers, Heyne Tillett Steel and is open and accessible for all.

The Co-op recently launched a campaign to protect, support or improve 2000 local community spaces by 2022. The Steel Warriors partnership is part of this campaign but Co-op is also working with the charity Locality to help communities identify at risk spaces across the UK and provide local people with advice and resources to save or improve them.

The Co-op’s Local Community Fund, which gives money to local causes every time you do business with the Co-op has already invested £4m in community spaces over the last few years, including 286 community centres, 314 village halls, 151 day centres and 61 parks.

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ABOUT STEEL WARRIORS Founded in 2017, Steel Warriors aims to reduce the number of young people carrying knives by melting down tonnes of seized and surrendered weapons and repurposing them into calisthenics gyms.

Communications agency, Lucky Generals, made the introduction between Steel Warriors and Co-op and continue to provide invaluable support.

Steel Warriors is the product of a collaboration and only exists due to the generosity of companies who give up their time for free and at cost. Supporters include Avison Young, Bishopsgate, British Land, Cratus, Equals, Faithful+Gould, Heyne Tillett Steel, Herbert Smith Freehills, Inciner8, London’s Metropolitan Police, Lucky Generals, Newby Foundries, Rebel Strength, Safety for Business and Sky.