A COUNCIL has joined a scheme allowing youngsters to take refuge in the town hall when they feel in danger.

The Civic Centre in Catford has become the first council building in the capital to join the Safe Haven initiative offering protection to youths who may be under threat.

Lewisham Council staff will be trained by police and London Citizens to protect scared youths. This could involve locking up the building or moving the vulnerable person to a safer area.

The London-wide Safe Haven scheme was set-up by youth charity London Citizens with support from Met police.

After discussions with youngsters in the borough they decided the town hall was a vital refuge point because so many buses converge on Catford town centre and some schoolchildren expressed feeling vulnerable at peak-travel times.

The parents of murdered teenager Jimmy Mizen have backed the scheme.

Earlier this year Barry and Margaret Mizen asked 30 shops in Lee to join the initiative to mark the one year anniversary of their son's death at a bakery in Burnt Ash Hill.

Since then hundreds of other refuge points have been set up across south-east London.

In a joint statement the pair said: "It is a great way to bring people together right across the community. None of us can do this work alone.

"If the safe-haven scheme saves one life in the future, it will be worth all the time and dedication that’s gone in to it."

Meanwhile Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock, said: “I’m immensely proud Lewisham is the first local authority to open it’s doors to young people, at a time when they may be in great need.

"By working together, to support and protect one another, we show others we are a community that cares.

"The Safe Haven scheme has brought many organisations together, all working for a safer community.”

Venues which have joined the scheme will display Jimmy Mizen Safe Haven stickers in the window.

For more information on the initiative, visit youtube.com/watch?v=SS-KaJjQrpg