Schools and youth groups, working with Citizens UK: Birmingham, regional branch of national community organising charity, Citizens UK, will begin the launch of 16 CitySafe Havens in Birmingham on 11th November 2014, the first havens to be developed outside London.

The launch of the CitySafe scheme comes after members of Citizens UK Birmingham ran a listening campaign during summer 2013 which identified street and bus safety as a top concern for young people.

A CitySafe Haven is a public place to seek refuge in a difficult situation. Safe Havens agree to offer their premises as a safe place for any person in danger. This agreement means that anyone feeling unsafe in one of the new designated CitySafe Zones can go to a Safe Haven displaying a CitySafe sticker, talk to a member of staff and immediately be taken to a safe place. Owners and managers at CitySafe Havens pledge to report 100% of crime to the Police.

Youth leaders started conversations with local shops and institutions to secure these landmark agreements. The young people were from Citizens UK Birmingham member institutions St. John Wall School, Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy, St. Clare’s Catholic Primary, St. Francis’ Catholic Primary, Anglesey Primary, Holy Trinity Catholic School, St. Chad’s Catholic School and youth organisation Aspire & Succeed.

There are now 16 CitySafe Havens in five Birmingham CitySafe zones, covering Newtown, Lozells, Handsworth Wood, Birchfield, and Small Heath. The campaign is supported by West Midlands Police Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Emma Barnet and the West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Safe Havens are an excellent idea, and I wish every success to this project. Young people are more likely to be victims of crime and it is important we all work together to ensure they feel confident wherever they are. It is my hope that we will see more local businesses and institutions join this initiative so that young people will know there is always a safe place nearby they can turn to.”

Perez Mead, 10, from St. Francis’ Catholic Primary said: “I do lots of after-school clubs, and when I walk home, I have to go through a park where there are sometimes boys smoking, who throw things at me. I have my secret hiding places in the park so they can’t catch me when I run away from them. If there was a Safe Haven nearby then I wouldn’t have to hide in the bushes.”

Local gym owner, Paul Jones from The Tao Centre, who was moved by Perez’s story, said: “Being a Safe Haven is morally the right thing to do. We serve local people and we care about them – especially the safety of children. I have signed up to be a Safe Haven and I encourage other businesses to do the same.”

Chief Superintendent Emma Barnett from West Midlands Police said: “We are pleased to support this initiative as the safety of our young people in our communities is very important. This is also a great example of young people taking the lead to establish the Safe Havens within their communities.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

Interviews can be organised on request with Saidul Haque, details below.

Citizens UK Birmingham is a diverse and independent alliance of civil society institutions that act together for the common good of Birmingham. It was founded in 2013.

It is affiliated to Citizens UK, a nationwide alliance of civil society institutions founded in the early 1990s, working in London, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Cardiff and Birmingham for the common good, using the tools of community organising. www.citizensuk.org

Local businesses can become CitySafe Havens by:

– Pledging to report 100% of crime to the Police
– Offering their premises as a safe haven for any young person in danger
– Maintaining a relationship with neighbours, police and the local community
– Encouraging their staff to attend CitySafe training
– Refusing to sell alcohol, knives or other dangerous items to underage or drunk customers.

CitySafe Havens can be recognised by a distinctive sticker in the window.

CitySafe Havens were developed in London by Citizens UK, with the support of the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, and are dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Mizen, the 16 year old boy who was murdered in 2008. There are now over 600 CitySafe Havens in London.

Enquiries to Saidul Haque Saeed, Birmingham Community Organiser, 07878 673 186, saidul.haque@citizensuk.org.uk, c/o Sisters of Mercy, 98 Hunters Road, Birmingham, B19 1EB

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