An outdoor gym built with melted-down confiscated knives has opened in East London.
The charity Steel Warriors has inaugurated their first workout park in Poplar, in the London borough of Tower Hamlet.
The charity aims to ‘bring down the number of young people carrying knives in the UK’ providing a space where they can congregate and spend time working out.
The outdoor gym is a callisthenics park with gymnastic beams, parallel bars and climbing frames built using seized or surrendered blades in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police.
Steel Warriors’ founders Ben Wintour and Pia Fontes take careful step to avoid using knives that have been handled in conflict. They clarified that the purpose of the gym is raising awareness about the issue, not glorifying it.
“If it was just a normal gym, people wouldn’t necessarily talk about knife crimes, but because of the way it’s built, it gets people talking about the problem,” Wintour said.
The Office for National Statistics reports that more than 35,000 knife crimes were committed in England and Wales in the past year; an increase of 26% compared to 2015. The majority of new knife offences are committed in Greater London.
Every month about a tonne of blades are seized from the streets of London and police chiefs have expressed their worry about the increasing number of young people carrying knives.
Lecturer in Criminology at City University London, Dr Carrie Myers has praised the initiative of Wintour and Fontes.
“Youth-oriented projects like Steel Warriors are extremely important, especially in poor boroughs like Tower Hamlet. Funding cuts have determined a decrease in the number of local government services for young people,” Myers explained.
Steel Warriors’ gym was built thanks to charitable donations, in partnership with local businesses.