Harlesden named as top CitySafe Haven town
- Credit: Archant
Harlesden has the highest number of CitySafe Havens in the UK thanks to the effort of a secondary school and the 64 local businesses students inspired to get involved.
Pupils at Newman Catholic College, in Harlesden Road, launched a campaign last July to protect people from being victims of crime with the support of London’s Citizens UK, an independent alliance of community groups.
The nationwide scheme has more than 500 havens across the UK which allows young people to seek refuge in a designated place such as a shop, business or church if they feel they could be in danger.
They all display a recognisable purple logo to indicate they are CitySafe.
Joao Coelho, 14, said: “We went out and signed up businesses. We talked to them and asked if they wanted to join and they were very co-operative. It’s good to have done something to help other people to keep them safe.”
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Luke Finch, 15, added: “From what Harlesden was, it now feels a lot better. There was nowhere to go before but now everybody has the opportunity to feel safe.”
The Year 10 pupils were part of a group of 20 students who worked with assistant head teacher Susan Grace, London Citizen’s co-ordinator Marlon King and the police to launch the campaign after pupils said that feeling threatened while out of school was their biggest concern, particularly along Park Parade and nearby Harlesden environments.
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Ms Grace said: “The Safe Havens not only benefited our school, it’s benefited other schools and the entire community because anyone can go into a Safe Haven if they feel threatened.”
Danny Coyle, head teacher at Newman Catholic College said: “It’s no accident that the number of incidents occurring outside school has diminished massively since we got involved in the Safe Havens.
“This is just the start of a growing campaign to improve the quality of this area for all people.”
PC Gary Weedon, from Brent Police, said: “We will continue to work closely with Newman Catholic College and other schools in Brent who wish to continue the hard work Citizens UK has achieved.”
Citizens UK was formed in 2008 following the murder of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen in South London.