Brent students work with local businesses to provide safe havens

Emma Arthur, Councillor Neil Nerva and QPCS Deputy Head Steve Cripps.

Emma Arthur, Councillor Neil Nerva and QPCS Deputy Head Steve Cripps. - Credit: Nicole Coscia

Brent students have re-launched a CitySafe Haven initiative in collaboration with 37 local businesses in Kensal Rise.  

Over the last few months Queen’s Park Community School (QPCS) students Jake, Yusra, Daisy, Maryam and Tilly visited shops in Chamberlayne Road to re-establish the safe havens developed there in 2014.  

Businesses partaking in the scheme all display a sticker to indicate they are safe havens and will help young people and the general public seeking refuge if they feel they are in danger.  

Year 12 student Jake said: “Over the years a few of my friends themselves have been mugged and I’ve heard first hand of how pressing the matter is.  

“Doing the walkabout has given me a lot of confidence and it’s been really nice getting to know the shopkeepers.  

“I’m really proud being part of the initiative because I was able to see first-hand how keen many shop owners were to be a part of it.”

Year 10 students Yusra (l.), Maryam and Daisy, Year 12 student Jake, Emma Arthur, Councillor Neil Nerva and Steve Cripps.

Year 10 students Yusra (l.), Maryam and Daisy, Year 12 student Jake, Emma Arthur, Councillor Neil Nerva and QPCS Deputy Head Steve Cripps. - Credit: Nicole Coscia

 

The Kensal Rise CitySafe Haven scheme was initially launched in 2014 by QPCS Sixth Form students and officially relaunched in this month.  

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Following a school-wide survey, Chamberlayne Road and Okehampton Road were identified as places where students occasionally felt vulnerable.  

Year 10 student Daisy said: “The safe havens are important to me because they provide a safe shelter for the public, particularly students in an area that has in recent times experienced a rise in anti-social behaviour.” 

Since the first 25 shops signed up eight years ago students have been returning periodically to gauge feedback, check if they are still on board and sign-up new ones.  

Baljeet Suri, a community patrol volunteer, accompanied the Year 10 students on their walkabouts in March. 

She said: “The students were very nervous initially because they did not know how the shopkeepers would empathise with them but when they went into the shops it was wonderful to see the shopkeepers were actually eager to assist the cause.  

“At the end of the session, the students felt so relieved to know that on their way home they could identify somewhere they could go into.” 

The Kensal Rise CitySafe scheme now has 37 businesses signed up as safe havens on Station Terrace, Chamberlayne Road and College Road. 

Emma Arthur, PTFA member and one of the initiators of the project alongside QPCS deputy head Steve Cripps, said: “This time we spread the net a bit further by going around even more shops and trying to get people on board. Most people were keen to be part of it which is great.” 

Alongside this school-led initiative Emma and Brent resident Trevor Lake also developed Street Watch QPKR, a community patrol organisation, at the end of 2020. 

She said: “We are very much aware that there is a problem and there remains a problem, sadly, with antisocial behaviour and particularly muggings around the neighbourhood in Kensal Rise and Queen's Park. 

“It’s not enough having these safe havens we actually need more feet on the street, the police can’t do it all, they’re stretched. So, we set up a patrol for the area.” 

The group consists of community volunteers who patrol the streets during term-time after school for two hours between 3.30 and 5.30pm. 

The safe haven scheme is part of CitySafe which was set up by London’s Citizens UK in 2008 following the death of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen in South London. 

Residents interested in joining Street Watch QPKR can sign up here: https://james9378.wixsite.com/streetwatch2 

See the full list of safe havens below:  

On Station Terrace: Arthurs Café, Bel & Nev Café, Mini Picassos, Station Café. 

On Chamberlayne Road: Abacus Estate Agents, Ashdown and Collins, Ayurveda Spa, Brooks Butchers, Centre for Peaceful Solutions, Chine, Daniels Estate Agents, Dollmead Pharmacy, Greenfield Pharmacy, Harris and Co Estate Agents, Levy & Co, Lexi Cinema, Mineiro Café, Moberly Sports Centre, Nooki, Park Heath Estate Agents, Post Office, Property Circle, Scarlet and Violet, Supra, Taj Hair Studio, The Rise, The Tile Shop, True Associates, Verandah, Vicki’s Café, Warwick Estate Agents, Whippet Inn, Wine Market, Winkworths Estate Agents. 

On College Road: Euro Supermarket, L’Angelo’s.