Shops and businesses in Thornton Heath are being asked to join a campaign to create Safe Zones where people can seek help and  receive first aid if necessary.

The initiative is the brainchild of Community Croydon Leaders  and @Unit-t, who have been recruiting  local businesses to sign up to join the scheme.

All those joining will be given free first aid training, lifesaver skills and youth engagement works.

Rennee Lord-Lindsay of CC Leaders spoke about the project at a meeting organised by borough commander Dave Stringer to discuss knife crime and violence in Thornton Heath, and appeared to get the green light from him about collaborating with police on the initiative.

She said: “I personally was finding there wasn’t a lot of ways I could give back in terms of knife crime. I wanted to do something practical and actually get members of the community to engage with local businesses with this social issue that I care about and so many other people care about as well.”

Once a local business volunteers to become a refuge space, they can display a sign in their window that lets young people know they can run there in an emergency. Originally started by London Citizens after 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen’s murder in 2008, this also created a powerful network of London businesses that discuss and take action on safety concerns.

Jimmy was murdered at a bakery near his home in Lee, south east London in an unprovoked attack.

Every shop that sings up will be issued with an iciest deterrent alarms, critical first aid kid on completing the first aid and life sign skills training, youth engagement and access to counselling sessions

The free training which covers critical live saving and first aid skills is provided by Croydon Social Prescribing project and youth engagement classes from Walking With Giants and Safe Streets.

The project has the backing of Harris Academy English teacher Rowenna Davis, who is running to be Labour’s GLA candidate for Sutton and Croydon, who said: “Businesses have embraced the idea: many of them are concerned about this type of crime but are unsure about how to deal with it. When I went out this week with other volunteers led by Renee to the same road my student was mugged on in the town centre, many shop keepers were interested to know more, and we signed them up.”

Croydon Community Leaders aims to create: economic growth, community empowerment  and make Croydon a welcoming, pleasant place to live and work  and works alongside charities and non-profits dealing with homelessness, mental health, anti-social behaviour, hate crimes and domestic violence.

*Rennee is pictured appealing to a takeaway  owner on Thornton Heath High Street to sign up to the Safe Zone initiative helped by Rowenna.

If you are interested in volunteering or joining email: