BY RAFI BENADY
A gym where the equipment is made from recycled knives has opened in a park.
It is the fruit of a co-operation between anti-knife crime organisation Steel Warriors and the Co-op.
The gym, in Ruskin Park, Camberwell, opened last Friday, and consists of a series parallel bars, free for anyone to use.
Steel Warriors and Co-op plan to build 20 gyms by 2022 around the UK, with each offering three training sessions per week with a qualified trainer.
The gyms are funded by a multi-million-pound commitment from Co-op.
Founder of Steel Warriors, Ben Wintour, 28, said: “This gym should be a safe facility where young people can come together, and the aim of it is to give more young people more physical confidence in their bodies to walk the streets without the need for a knife.
“And it can encourage young people to talk more about knife crime, while also providing a healthy diversion away from it.
“It’s about diverting people away from negative peer groups and into positive ones.”
The charity launched in 2017 by taking seized and surrendered knives off the streets of London and melting them down to build its first gym in Tower Hamlets, east London.
Ben was attacked near the park, showing the importance of this initiative in helping to tackle knife crime and boost health and well-being for the community.
Steel Warriors believe community spaces have an important role to play in fostering community spirit, as the loss of youth centres and spaces has a negative impact on the community.
Chief membership officer of the Co-op Group, Matthew Atkinson, originally from Brixton, said: “We think it’s about putting something like this down, and then co-operating with local community groups, bringing someone here to run competitions, and to training.
“And use that as a way to start inspiring kids to do something with their time other than being on the streets.
“Also to help them find a different sort of confidence. And that confidence and resilience can help them not go a different sort of way.
“The Co-op and Steel Warriors can’t solve knife-crime, but our view is we’ve got to do something, and this is our way of doing it.