Students campaign for safer streets

Students from the local CitySafe project Photo: Cat Wiener

As the family of murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen commemorate the second anniversary of his fatal stabbing in a Lee bakery, East London Lines reports on the Lewisham teenagers who are among those taking up the Mizen family’s campaign for safer streets.

Onose Obanokho, Amanda Osei-Braimah, Alice Schweigert and Camilla Yahaya, who are all Year 8 students at Prendergast Ladywell Fields College in Brockley, were in the live audience that met political leaders at the  May Day Citizens UK conference at Westminster. They were there as active promoters of London CitizensCitySafe Safe Havens campaign.

This campaign, initiated by the Mizen family, aims to involve local traders and shopkeepers in keeping young people safe. The scheme invites local shopkeepers to display a CitySafe sticker in their shop window, undertaking to provide a safe refuge for any young person who feels threatened and to promote ‘zero-tolerance’ of crime, recording any illegal activity and contacting the police when necessary. The Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock,  has already declared the town hall to be such a safe haven.

The students described their campaign, which has included a ‘community walk’ with primary schools, local councillors and religious leaders to visit shops and invite them to take part in the scheme. The students have already signed up 45 shops in Catford town centre for the first phase of the scheme and 40 in  Brockley and Honor Oak. In recognition of their efforts,  they have been invited to open the first CitySafe Safe Haven in Lewisham town centre.

Students from Prendergast Ladywell College welcome Jay, of Brockley High Street Budgens, to the CitySafe scheme Photo: Simon Jones

Simon Jones, a teacher at Prendergast Ladywell Fields College, has been coordinating the school’s involvement in the project. He believes the work of community organisations like London Citizens is vital:

“They work with local churches, mosques and temples and school groups to…try and bring the power back to the people and give the voiceless members of the community a voice”.

The scheme already operates in Lee and areas of Catford and is proving an important way of fostering community spirit and reducing levels of youth crime. Sebastien Chapleau of South London Citizens told East London Lines:

“It is great to see young people getting the confidence to really challenge stereotypes and address issues that really matter to them. The CitySafe campaign is a great way to get students to show the wider community that they’re not part of the problem, but part of the solution.”

13-year-old Onose Obanokho challenged local shopkeepers to step up to the responsibility of making the streets of Lewisham safer for young people:

“So what do you say? Will you help us make our community a safer place?”

To hear the students talk about their involvement in the CitySafe Safe Havens project, click here:

Earlier today the parents of murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen joined with TV presenter Ben Shephard, Spurs striker Jermain Defoe and the Metropolitan Police to launch a personal safety film campaign for schools at New Scotland Yard.

Margaret Mizen said:

“We want Jimmy to be remembered. We need to work together to stop the hatred and reclaim our children.”

This was followed by a peace service at Westminster Cathedral, where HRH Prince Charles met the parents of young people from across the UK who have died in violent circumstances. This service had been organised by the Mizen family on the second anniversary of Jimmy’s death and the day after what would have been his 18th birthday.

Remembering Jimmy Mizen

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