GLOVES UP, KNIVES DOWN
MATRIX SUPPORTS MET POLICE INITIATIVE HARNESSING ACTIVITY TO TACKLE KNIFE CRIME
The Metropolitan Police, the council and Achieving for Children, a not-for-profit social enterprise providing children’s services in Kingston and Richmond, have been empowering communities to claim back their estates, combat knife crime and increase youth engagement.
In April, dozens of local young people were joined by the Mayor of Richmond Cllr Ben Khosa, councillors, the police, local MPs, community outreach group ‘Gloves up, Knives Down’, and youth workers at the re-launch of Whitton Youth Zone and its newly refurbished gym, operated by Achieving for Children.
Mandy Smith, Area Youth Work Leader for charity, Achieving for Children, comments: “The aim of this project is to break down barriers between police, young people and the local community. We want to encourage more young people to use the gym, improve their fitness and keep them off the streets – we have had two youth sessions since the relaunch and have already had 18 new gym sign up already. Matrix have been a huge support for our gym relaunch. The space has been completely transformed.”
The relaunch of the gym included new cardio equipment and Hatton Boxing bags, gloves and pads donated by Matrix Fitness, who also arranged training for the Youth Zone staff so they can deliver boxing sessions to young people.
Police Sergeant, John McLoughlin of Whitton Safer Neighbourhood policing team said: “Whitton Youth Zone is a safe space for young people to come and socialise with their peers. Such spaces are rare yet valuable in today’s society, and it’s important we encourage their use. It’s the contributions from organisations such as Matrix Fitness and Ricky Hatton’s boxing foundation that help make this even more achievable and I’m very pleased to report, that as a result of the day, Whitton Youth Zone now has even more young people signed up”.
This initiative comes at a time when the Government are looking to use activity to support and engage young people. On this topic, Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, made the pledge to tackle knife crime;
“Sport has the power to reach and connect people of all ages and backgrounds.” Wright said. “ We want to harness that power to encourage young people to choose positive activities that build confidence and key skills rather than turn to crime and violence.”
Matt Pengelly, Managing Director, Matrix Fitness UK adds: “Now is such a crucial time to promote the positive impact that physical activity can play in tackling violence. We hope that the renovation of Whitton Youth Centre will help build a safe, sense of community, promote healthy behaviours and provide positive role models for the young.”
Whitton Youth centre is at 1 Britannia Lane, Whitton, TW2 7JX. The centre is open to all Young People from the ages of 10 – 19, five evenings a week, offering a variety of activities and equipment including a gym. For more information, head to the Whitton Youth centre website.