Three North Finchley businesses to become safe havens for those in distress

Barnet Council’s new scheme will help provide safe places for people in distress at times of need

People stand in front of a cafe to launch the new scheme
New safe haven at My Caffe My Caffe on North Finchley High Road

Barnet Council has launched Safe Havens as part of its work to combat Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), with three North Finchley businesses leading the way.

Safe Havens are registered places and business that commit to warmly welcome individuals in distress, offering them a secure environment until they feel ready to depart. Staff members may assist by making necessary phone calls, providing helpful information on transportation options, and instilling confidence in individuals to continue their journeys safely

Under the scheme, participating businesses will ensure their staff are trained to provide assistance and guidance effectively. The council will cover the costs associated with promotional materials and essential equipment for the safe spaces, such as water and first aid kits.

Registered premises will display a distinctive Safe Haven sticker on their windows, signifying their commitment to offering appropriate support to anyone seeking assistance.

This pioneering programme aims to provide practical support and refuge to individuals, particularly women and girls, who may feel intimidated, threatened, harassed, or unwell while out and about in the evening.

The Safe Havens pilot scheme has launched across three diverse businesses in North Finchley, with another to be added, these will serve as temporary refuges for those in need.

The three North Finchley businesses taking part in the pilot scheme are, My Caffe on 731 High Road, The Bohemia at 762-764 High Road and the Elephant Inn at 283 Ballards Lane.

Hami Sadat, Owner of My Caffe, said: “We’re really proud to be part of this project as it’s another way we get to support and serve the community that we love. We have great relationships with our customers and the people who live in the area and we hope this already feels like a safe space for people, which makes this opportunity feel like a very natural thing for us.”

Public premises across various sectors, including shops, cafes, pubs, libraries, and other places of interest, are encouraged to register as Safe Havens.

Cllr Sara Conway, cabinet Member for community safety and participation, said: “While we know Barnet is one of the safest boroughs in London, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the safety of residents and in our approach to tackling violence against women and girls.

“The Safe Haven programme forms part of our wider community safety programme across Barnet which has included the investment and upgrades to our CCTV system, the establishment of community safety hubs, ward walks, and collaborative efforts with law enforcement agencies to target serious crime. It is also part of our comprehensive partnership approach to combatting violence against women and girls and domestic abuse.

“This pilot scheme will be assessed, and we hope if successful will be expanded in a phased approach into a wider network of safe spaces, to further combat VAWG and enhance community safety in Barnet.”

Claire Waxman OBE, independent victims’ commissioner for London, said: “I welcome this pilot and the Council’s commitment to tackling violence against women and girls. Through this pilot, residents will have additional reassurance that support will be available if they feel intimidated or under threat at night.

“Too many women and young people feel unsafe on our streets. It is through collective efforts such as these, that we can begin to make London a city welcoming for all, whatever the time of day.”

Businesses interested in registering as Safe Havens should contact Oliver Pinch at [email protected].

On 18 September 2023, a new law came into force making public sexual-based harassment a crime and could see people convicted of catcalling, stalking or other intentional sexual behaviour jailed for up to two years.

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