Charity teaches young people about sexual health and drug abuse


Mohammed Aza, Senior Administrator at Safe East. Pic: Ayesha Rahman

Music and popcorn were on offer when young people from around Tower Hamlets attended an event designed to educate them on sexual health and drug addiction issues last week.

Safe East, an offshoot of an organisation called Compass, which provides health and wellbeing services including drugs, alcohol misuse and sexual health, met with young people who came to Genesis cinema to talk about their projects.

“We felt it was more youth-friendly having it in a cinema,” said Mohammed Aza, Safe East’s Senior Administrator.

“When people think of Tower Hamlets, they say ‘oh we went to Genesis cinema, it’s pretty good’. So, we thought this would be a good location,” Aza told ELL.

He added: “We offer them interventions about substance misuse, like smoking too much cannabis or drinking alcohol, then support them through a drop diary care plan to help them reduce consumption.”

The organisation’s aim is to work with young people aged 10-19. However, Aza said they worked with older people, up to 25 years old if they were being referred by their legal care team.

Safe East also provides contraception or emergency pills to young girls. This can be accessed by visiting their hub at 59 Mile End road.

They communicate with organisations beyond schools, such as Youth Offending Teams, Children’s Social Services and hostels.

Aza said Safe East often developed “close relationships” with other institutes whilst working with reoffending kids.

Natalie, a Health and Wellbeing Practitioner for Safe East, who asked for her surname not to be used, told ELL how young people can access their services.

“Some get referred from agencies like Schools, Youth Offending Team and Social Care.

“People can also self-refer at their drop-in service.

“We speak to them the best way we can, and we always promote harm reduction,” Natalie said.

Safe East chose to be at Genesis Cinema as they saw it as “a landmark” to the Tower Hamlets community.

Wasim Shah, 19, a security worker who attended the event, said: “It’s so good man. Everybody here makes such good music and it’s so peaceful.”

Wasim Shah, guest attending the event. Pic: Ayesha Rahman

Safe East also has an anonymous text messaging service called Chat Health.

Aza explained many young people wish to remain anonymous and prefer not to be seen by people they know on their way to the hub.

He said: “What we intend to do is [to] target that demographic that is too shy to come in. Especially within boys.”


Spotlight artists at event. Pic: Ayesha Rahman

During last Thursday’s event, Safe East also partnered with Spotlight, a corporation which connected aspiring performers to the arts industry, and invited a few of their new young artists to perform.

Music from various genres performed at the event included R&B, Soul music, Hip Hop, and Jazz from singers such as Wonu, Jordanne from South London and Skye from East London.

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