A team of south east London police officers have taken time of from the frontline during the lockdown, instead making over 100 visits to local vulnerable children to provide a vital lifeline

The dedicated team of Safer Schools Officers have been visiting the homes of young people who need help across Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley, making 124 visits between March 23 and June 12.

The officers have been able to offer help children in a variety of ways, including delivering food packages, helping a young person cope with online bullying, and signposting other services.

At a time when communities need to pull together, the 27-strong team have been working in partnership with local authorities, ensuring south east London's most vulnerable are supported during the pandemic.

Police Sergeant Aaron King, from the South East Safer Schools Team based in Lewisham, said: “Our officers genuinely care about the young people they help, and enjoy doing what they can to make their lives better.

"These young people are our most vulnerable and most important group.

“When a Safer Schools officer knocks on the door, young people and their families don’t just see a police uniform, they see an officer they know by first name and trust. You can’t tell what the reception will be but most parents realise that you’re there with they and their children’s best interests at heart.

“You can’t do this job and not care.”

As part of the initiative, officers have also been visiting local police cadets who are considered vulnerable, and offered them extensive support from lending them iPads to learning vital skills to get jobs.

A visit is usually prompted by the young person's school or council after they're unable to contact the family, or have flagged a concern about them.

Officers will then step in to check on that young person's welfare, and support them how they can.

Chief Inspector Michael Chattenton, who heads up the south east’s Neighbourhoods team, said: “I appreciate this is a difficult time for many people on the borough, particularly young people and their families.

“Our south east command unit and the community has a long and strong tradition of working together, and continues to do so.

“Our officers are part of their community and they know what issues matter to south east Londoners which is why we’re out there working with all of those who need us most.”