BMX club founder opens Harold Hill Safe House for young people leaving care
PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:22 06 January 2020
The founder of a well-known BMX Club has opened a Safe House in Harold Hill to support young people leaving care and ensure they have access to opportunities in the borough.
Michael Pusey MBE has transformed a former pub into accommodation for looked after children aged 16 and above.
He said: "The accommodation is for young people who may be in trouble, or if they've been kicked out of their home or for people who are leaving care.
"We bring people from outside to help them with their finances, teach them how to cook or help them sign up to a leisure centre.
"We've been doing this for over 20 years in other places in London."
The Harold Hill Safe House had a soft launch party on Thursday, December 18, but has yet to house any young people.
Michael told the Recorder that the accommodation will house young people who have been referred to the Safe House by Havering Council.
Of the three tiers - low, medium and high - they will only take on medium risk adults.
"We plan to start with three and then once we get going we'll up it to five," said Michael.
"We're going to start with small steps and then see where we end up.
"Sometimes young people just want to get away from their area.
"They need to meet new people, get into a different peer group and hopefully their mindset will change.
"Most supportive accommodations have just a bed in a room and that's it. Here we've got a football table, a tennis table, computers and a nice garden.
"I always think what would I want a young person to live in if they were my child."
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One of Michael's goals is for the Safe House to also serve the wider community.
He said: "The building has ample space. We've got a massive car park and a garden area where the deer often come out.
"The outcome that I'm hoping for is that we could host summer fun days and we can bring some of the BMX guys down to do some demonstrations."
Michael started the Safe House accommodation project after a successful career in BMX.
His BMX team has gone on to win national and international titles and it's the only club in England to send nine riders to the Olympic programme.
Michael said that opening Safe Houses was a natural progression from the work he already did mentoring young adults.
He has also worked as a DJ alongside artists including Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle and So Solid Crew and was awarded an MBE in 2015 for his services to young people in south London through his BMX Club.
The Safe House founder hopes to link up the Harold Hill unit with Bad BMX which recently reopened in Dagenham.
"BMX and DJing is obviously the highlight of what I do but I will try to link the young people up with any of the other businesses I'm part of," said Michael.
Three of the members from Michael's British Olympic BMX team visited the Safe House on Saturday, December 28 from 3pm to 5pm.
Councillor Jan Sargent said: "It was an absolute honour to meet Michael and his team.
"I am completely in awe of what Michael Pusey and his team have achieved with helping young adults and wish them every success for this exciting new venture.
"I welcome them into our community with open arms and look forward to supporting them in anyway possible."
Cllr Darren Wise added that he was pleased to see the former Morris Dancer Pub being used for something positive.
He said: "It's early days yet but Michael wants to do something good for young people and the community, and I'm in full support of that."
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