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. It launched in 2017 by taking seized and surrendered knives off the streets of London and melting them down to build its inaugural gym at Tower Hamlets in east London.
The new gym is the first of a 20-gym plan that Co-op has committed to build by partnering with Steel Warriors. It 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: “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 co-operating with others and building partnerships like this one with Steel Warriors, which has produced a 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 that communities face and no issue worries people more right now than the tragedy of young lives taken by senseless stabbings.”
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 launch follows Co-op’s recent move to stop selling single-pack knives in its stores, instead donating them to Steel Warriors.