What would you do if a thief broke into your car and stole your wallet with £100?
That’s the situation Stratford fitness trainer Jason Bennett found himself in. Even though he suspected he knew who the perpetrator was, his response was not to get angry, seek revenge or even contact the police.
Instead, he made an extraordinary gesture.
In a video posted on social media addressed to the thief – thought to be a young lad – Jason said: “I know what kind of frame of mind you have to be in to do stuff like that. I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was young.
“So I wanted to extend an invitation to you and give you an opportunity to get more money. I’ll give you another £100 if you come and do a gym session with me. I’m hoping to help you out.”
The two-minute recording goes on to warn the youngster that if he carries on then he risks hurting those around him, especially his mother. “If you do want help, support and guidance, message me,” adds Jason.
Jason told the Herald he hadn’t heard from the “troubled young lad” yet but was sure he had seen it.
Jason’s life wasn’t always so together. These days he’s a proud dad to two daughters aged seven and eight, runs his own successful business, the Health Kick Academy, and is a martial arts champion. But when he was 20, Jason served 18 months in prison in Kent, where he grew up and where he was often in trouble with the law.
“I served my time at Rochester young offenders’ institution. I got into fitness there. Then when I came out I started to knuckle down and came up to Stratford and started my own fitness business about six years ago.”
He said his gesture towards the thief was something he had come to learn: “Ten years ago I wouldn’t have reacted like that. But through mindfulness and meditation I’ve learned to process and realise that anger doesn’t get you anywhere – it just causes more suffering to you and everyone else.
“When I was going through my teens, my dad wasn’t around at all and I guess I was looking for male role models. I ended up getting taken under the wing of a successful drug-dealer who I looked up to. I don’t like to see young men falling into the same trap I did.”
Jason said his aim in a gym session with the culprit would be to “spend time with him and help him any which way I can with the way he’s thinking about the world, and the lens through which he is seeing it at the moment”.
He added: “Having been in that place and walked in those shoes, I want to do my bit to help them from going wrong.”
See Jason’s video message here