I have always known that, if you are in trouble in London, you ask a Policeman! It doesn’t matter what your problem is, they are there to help, or point you in the direction of where to get help! But, chatting to Ken Wright, of the Phoenix Artist Club, recently, he happened to mention that the club, just below the Phoenix Theatre, in Charing Cross road, is a Safe Haven!
The safe haven project is a joint programme run by Camden Council, The Metropolitan Police and LGBT Camden.
It’s correctly called ‘CLASP’ and, although aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, it is frequently used by visitors of all backgrounds who find themselves in trouble.
The idea is that it gives visitors to London, a safe place to go, in times of an emergency, where they can get help and advice, when they are out and about.
Ken told me that the Phoenix Artist Club has dealt with ladies being abused and touted by rogue mini-cab drivers, a Danish family who rented an apartment but were broken into on day one of their holiday and lost everything, plus various medical emergencies and even looking after witnesses until police arrive.
Their staff receive specialist training to handle distressed individuals and report to the most appropriate support services.
There are establishments all across the borough of Camden, which covers an area up to Hampstead and Swiss Cottage, Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Kings Cross and Euston down to Holborn, St Giles – just look for the window stickers. I’m afraid it doesn’t cover the main tourist areas of the West End and Theatreland but, but the Phoenix Artist Club amongst others is very close to Covent Garden, Seven Dials, Soho and Oxford Street.
A map with the locations of all partner organisations is at clasp.camdenlgbtforum.org.uk You can also get an app there, so you can access the information whilst on the move in London.
Here is some further information about the organisation from their webpage.
Similar to the successful ‘safe havens scheme’ CLASP (Camden LGBT Advice and Safety Project) has already signed up over 100 organisations who have pledged to carry a sticker in their window and provide a point of safety for people if they are abused or attacked on the streets of Camden.
Organisations who have signed up to the scheme include; Waterstones Bookshop, the Electric Ballroom and KoKo but the scheme also includes community centres such as Fitzrovia and Castlehaven; local voluntary organisations such as Hopscotch Asian Womens Group and the BME alliance; all the CABx in Camden; student buildings such as the UCL Union café; and theatres such as the Donmar Warehouse and the Bloomsbury Theatre. Also included in the scheme are a number of faith groups and churches such as St Pancras Parish Church, Friends Meeting House, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church and the London Diamond Buddhist Centre.
It is always important to look after vulnerable members of society and, when we are traveling, in a strange place, we can all be more vulnerable than we might normally be.
So what a wonderful organisation this is and thanks to all of those partners who open their doors to anyone who might need them.
Obviously I hope you will never need their help, but I am happier knowing the thing exists and I will make sure that I tell as many visitors to London as possible, because you just never know!