Mother of murdered teen launches ‘safe havens’ across Newham

Jackie Litambola and Peach colleagues

Jackie Litambola and Peach colleagues - Credit: Archant

The mother of a murdered teenager has backed a “save havens” scheme for young people to help prevent future deaths from street violence.

100 people turned out for the CitySafe launch

100 people turned out for the CitySafe launch - Credit: Archant

Jackie Litambola, whose son Bienda, known as “Bob”, was killed aged 17 in an attack by two men in 2007, paid tribute to his “beautiful soul” at the launch of the CitySafe project for Custom House earlier this month.

She told about 100 people gathered at Royal Docks Community School, Canning Town, that those taking part in the scheme, which will see shops and youth centres become safe havens for young people in danger, were “guardian angels”.

The CitySafe initiative, founded by London Citizens, has a number of safe havens across Newham already but this is the first time they have been set up in Custom House.

Nine shops and youth centres have signed up in the area, with another five expected before Christmas. The scheme has been driven locally by Peach (People’s Empowerment Alliance for Custom House) of which Jackie is a founding member.

Jackie said: “[My son] Bob was courageous and he wanted everything to work. My favourite memory is that he was always fighting for me. He always said ‘I will look after my mum, whatever it takes.’ He had a beautiful soul.

“After Bob passed, I was like a dead person. But now I’m still standing and I’m healing. Because through being part of Peach and CitySafe, I realised that it’s good that I’m still here.”

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She added: “All these people who want to help are the guardian angels. It makes me feel strong and it gives me courage to help people.”

Safe havens so far include the Garden Community Café, EastEnders’ Kebab house, Prince Regent Newsagents, Prince Regent Hotel, the local Fish and Chip shop, Custom House Library, Jay’s General Store, Dara’s mini-mart and Shipman Youth Zone.

They will be identified as a safe haven bya purple CitySafe sticker in their window.

Staff are briefed on how to be the frontline of safety by doing what they can, be it simply letting someone use the phone to ring a parent or giving shelter to some one fleeing a life-threatening situation. They are not expected to put themselves in harms way, but are advised to call 999 if nece ssary.

Bob’s brother, Eddy, said: “The safe haven project is meant to be somewhere kids are protected, and where you see that sign in the shops it shows you’re safe there, and if anything goes wrong there are people who can help you.”

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