Safe House: Creating a safe space for young people
Bisola Popoola is the founder of Safe House: a new charity based in Hackney providing hope and educational workshops for young people growing up in a challenging environment.
Bisola (or “Bis”) has lived in Hackney since she was born. An avid youth leader in her church, her day job is as an event and PR manager in the fashion and music industries.
After witnessing the issues that troubled her local area — from gang activity to lack of resources for community residents — she decided to set up Safe House, with the aim of creating safe spaces and workshops for young people in the surrounding areas, empowering them in the challenging environment they are growing up in.
Safe House’s mission is to help those who are underprivileged and deal with issues of educational failure, family destruction, exclusion, financial deficiency, mental disabilities, unemployment and violence in London. With the right access and information, Bis believes we can cause a generational shift and create leaders of the future, rather than those becoming a product of their environments.
Bis launched Safe House in September 2018 with a debut workshop titled, “Gangs, Drugs N Violence”. The programme included an inspirational testimony from a guest speaker, Nathaniel Shalom, on the effects of drugs and his personal journey of growing up in Hackney, followed by a T-shirt customisation session.
“I wanted to introduce young people to Safe House and advocate positive ways to avoid becoming victims of gangs, drugs and violence, as well as bringing our young people together to enjoy each other’s company and put them at the forefront.”
The young people in attendance were between 14-23 years old and here are a few things they had to say:
- “This is sick, I wish my friends were here to be a part of it too – they def’o missed out.”
- “You should go into schools and tell students about this, I’m sure more people will come to other events.”
- “Our area needs this, it’s so important – don’t give up.”
Bisola’s experience tells her that with the right support, young people in Hackney can be nurtured to become the leaders of the future.
“The youth of today, particularly young boys/men constantly face a series of struggles with no sight of success. Although I’m a female and wasn’t involved in gang related activity directly growing up, there were many guys close to me who were, so I developed a deep, emotional attachment and understanding to some of the causes.
Back then, we stood as one community, enjoying our childhood no matter what our personal dysfunctions were at home. If I could help at least one person understand that anything great you desire is attainable through faith, discipline and hard work, there’s hope to help so many more and that is what I aim to do. Hackney is home and I wouldn’t have traded my ‘hood with anywhere else in the world. I’m just a product of my environment, serving a purpose, hungry for positive change.
To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Safe House on Instagram for further announcements and news at @safehouse.ldn
Christmas Present Drive
On Saturday on 15 December, Safe House hosted a Christmas drop-in for young people who do not usually receive presents.
The idea was to encourage as many people as possible to donate gifts for young boys and girls that will be wrapped and gender/age labelled. Young people will come along to collect their present and eat food.
“Christmas is about the children and young people and there is nothing more rewarding than contributing towards their happiness during the festive season,” Bis says.