University of East London policing students and staff joined key members of the Newham community on 2 October to launch a ‘safe haven’ for young people at Stratford Shopping Centre.
The XLP Youth Hub, based in a shop unit opposite Sports Direct, will act as place for children to seek refuge when they feel vulnerable or threatened. XLP is an organisation which helps young people growing up in inner city estates by empowering them through community projects. Twenty shops in the shopping centre have also signed up to be safe spaces, part of the ‘Citysafe’ haven initiative.
‘Citysafe’, a London Citizens campaign to tackle crime and rebuild community relationships, links closely with the University of East London’s own Project Tri-Com. Recently launched Project Tri-Com aims to encourage inclusion and engagement across London to enlighten, enrich and change attitudes.
Dr Sarah Jane Fox, the director of policing at the University’s Centre of Professional Policing said, “The University of East London’s policing students are happy to give support to the ‘Citysafe’ haven initiative as it demonstrates the strengths of community collaboration and partnership working and the importance of projects in protecting vulnerable people.”
Children from Sarah Bonnell School and St Bonaventure’s School played a major role at the event. They voiced their concerns about walking around in the borough, and in particular around the shopping centre, which was being used as a place to lure and groom vulnerable young people.
At the launch, young people were given certificates recognising their achievements in helping make the borough safer. One child encouraged local shops to sign up to the ‘CitySafe’ campaign. Another child lobbied Stagecoach and TfL to change bus timetables so children were not waiting around in the cold and dark for a long time for a bus to get home.
The Mayor of Newham, Ms Rokhsana Fiaz, said at the launch, “I am very reassured and touched that the children here today care so much about this borough. We have got to make Newham a safer place. The council has a clear intention, with help from partners to drive through projects.”
The University of East London was named in a roll call of organisations which are supporting the scheme. Community engagement is critical to the University’s vision and it plays a key role in helping train the police officers of the future via its policing degrees.