By Rebecca Birkbeck, Director Community and Shared Value
At the AGM we announced the areas we’ll be focusing our community activity on: spaces, wellbeing and skills.
Our initial focus is on spaces and helping communities come together to save, support and improve local spaces.
We’re already making great progress in this area. You may have seen that we announced that we’ll be working with anti-knife crime organisation Steel Warriors and have pledged to boost community health and wellbeing by building street gyms however, I want to share a little more about this.
Who are Steel Warriors?
Steel Warriors is an anti-knife crime organisation that creates free community gyms in places impacted by knife crime. The new community gyms are made from steel from knives that have been taken off the street, melted down and recycled.
The gyms are designed to give young people a free space where they can develop confidence. The spaces will be accessible for all and aim to boost health and wellbeing by enhancing strength and flexibility.
What was announced?
With growing knife crime in the UK, we’ve already removed single use knives from our food store shelves as part of our broader Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities work.
Organisations like Steel Warriors need investment to succeed and when we saw how positive an impact these street gyms can have, it felt right that we should support them.
We’ve announced a multi-million pound investment to support Steel Warriors to create free community gyms in areas impacted by knife crime.
What are we doing and why?
Community spaces across the UK, from playgrounds to youth clubs are disappearing and we know that this has a negative impact on communities. We’re committed to playing our part to combat this.
We’re aiming to help Steel Warriors build 20 open air, free-to-use gyms across the UK and two new gyms will be built this year.
We’re supporting them to have a trainer at each gym running sessions for different abilities every week to share skills and improve physical and mental wellbeing within communities. Local training instructors, sports groups and youth groups will be invited to use the gyms for free.
We’re even using the knives we’ve took off the shelves in store to help make these spaces.
When will things happen?
Plans are progressing really well and we’re currently on the lookout for the first two gym locations.
What can I do to help?
So many colleagues are already doing so much to benefit their local communities. From swiping your member card when you nip to the shop, to being an active member in a community group, to taking on a Member Pioneer role – collectively this work makes a really positive difference.
As we help Steel Warriors roll out the gyms, there may be opportunities for colleagues to be more involved – we’ll keep you posted.
A message from Steel Warriors
“Steel Warriors are really excited to be working with Co-op to build more knife steel gyms around the UK.
“The partnership will allow us to bring calisthenics to a significant number of communities, providing a fantastic free facility in areas that have been hit hard by knife crime. We are looking forward to growing the Steel Warriors community with Co-op’s help, using training and technology to support people wherever we can and showing that lives should be built on steel, not destroyed by it.”