ISMAEL MUSOKE reports on a scheme that is trying to make our streets safer for Croydon’s youngsters
Audrey was attacked by a group of young people, Aaron was mugged in Thornton Heath not far from his home, Ryan has friends who have been stabbed and Sierah has been followed by strangers. What do these young people have in common? They are all from Croydon and they are all a part of the London Citizens CitySafe campaign.
London Citizens is a powerful alliance of schools, churches, mosques and charities that work together to make change. CitySafe is a campaign that aims to make our streets safer and our neighbourhoods friendlier.
Young people from Coulsdon College, Croydon College, St Mary’s parish, St Andrew’s parish and St Jude’s have been working together to sign up CitySafe Havens across the borough.
There are more than 500 CitySafe Havens across London, some of these are in central Croydon and Thornton Heath. Some of the most well-known safe havens in Croydon include Tesco Thornton Heath, CEX and Reeves Corner.
Young people from local schools and churches sign up shops to become safe havens. Once a shop becomes a safe haven they agree to:
1. Report 100 per cent crime
2. Commit to build relationships with their neighbours, the local police and young people
3. Offer their shop as a place of safety for anyone in danger
It’s not just young people that are coming together on this issue but politicians are putting aside their differences to support the work. Both Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central, and Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, are supportive of the initiative.
“It’s great to see so many young people working so hard to make the streets safer,” Reed said.
Police Borough Commander Dave Musker said at a recent CitySafe rally at Coulsdon College: “I am delighted to endorse this inspirational community-led approach to improving safety and building trust.”
The Reeves furniture business, famous worldwide for the wrong reasons after the arson attacks during the Croydon Riots in 2011, is also backing the scheme to help the area’s young people feel safer in their own neighbourhoods. Indeed, the business’s owners are appealling to other traders in the borough to sign up to the scheme straight away.
“CitySafe is something that people should opt out of, rather than opt in,” Graham Reeves, one of the company’s directors, said, “as what CitySafe asks us to do is what we should all be doing anyway.”
And Maurice Reeves said: “If someone came into your store in distress then, if you are a responsible retailer, obviously you help them. This should be the norm.
“In fact, the businesses who don’t want to take part should be the ones with the stickers in their windows saying ‘if you’re in trouble, we’re not interested’.”
- An app is being developed to make it easier to find safe havens. You can go to www.citysafe.org.uk to find out more
Coming to Croydon
- Tea at Five at the Spread Eagle: Oct 2-4
- Minster’s musical celebration for Silver Sunday: Oct 6
- Rent at the Secombe Theatre: Oct 9-12
- Debate the future of arts in Croydon: Oct 10
- Stanley Lives – open day in South Norwood: Oct 12
- Lakes Playground group’s fundraising Zumba-ween: Oct 26
- PJ’s enterprising look at Black History Month: Oct 29
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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