The mother of a murdered teenager shed tears as a community building committed its support to assisting young people who feel threatened in Tottenham.
Yvonne Lawson’s son Godwin was stabbed to death in an attack on the High Road in 2010 and she has been campaigning for greater safety among the town’s young people ever since.
The 639 Enterprise Centre, which reopened in May to nurture young entrepreneurs after it was left badly damaged in the 2011 riots, became the ninth building on the High Road to sign up to the City Safe Haven Scheme.
Run by charity Citizens UK and supported by mayor Boris Johnson’s Team London programme, the venture encourages business and shopkeepers across London to offer their premises as a place of refuge for any young person who feels unsafe.
Mrs Lawson, who spoke at the launch this afternoon, was joined by Team London Youth Ambassador Ledley King and Haringey Mayor Sheila Peacock, as well as representatives from Citizens UK and the 639 Centre.
She said: “In 2010 I went through the most painful thing a mother can go through. Knowing Godwin took his last breath on the street in a busy high road really intensifies the pain.
“Signing up another of these safe havens means so much to me. It is a bit of a spiritual healer for me – I feel like I’m giving something back and that Godwin’s death was not in vain.
“We’re using his name to hopefully save others who find themselves in similar situations. That is his legacy and it is a comfort to me.”
Organisers of the scheme are hopeful it will act as a tool to repair fractious relations between young people and business owners in Tottenham after the vandalism and looting that took place in the 2011 riots.
Sophie Stephens, from Citizens UK, said: “It is about the relationship between young people and their neighbours. These shopkeepers and buildings are standing up in their community and it is important to promote understanding of what they are doing.”
Children from the nearby Holy Trinity Primary School helped Tottenham Hotspur legend Ledley King post the City Safe Haven sign in the building’s window this afternoon.
The former Spurs defender, who grew up in East London, said: “I know what it is like to be a youngster in London and it is vital they can play outside and feel safe.
“Kids are aware of certain places that are more dangerous than others and we’re trying to eliminate all that.
“It is great what Yvonne is doing. She deserves a lot of credit as she is an inspiration to a lot of people.”