A SAFE haven offering 24-hour support to young vulnerable women has opened up in South Norwood.
Skye Alexandra House will offer a range of services to girls aged 16 to 18 who may have been involved in gangs or sexually exploited.
It is a joint project by qualified mentor Sherica Spence, 27, and counsellor Natasha Boxill, 32, who met through their children.
Ms Spence said: "We wanted to open a service for vulnerable young girls but we wanted to make it different from a lot of semi-independent living and provide 24-hour supported living.
"Our inspiration came from a girl called Shantel who lived above me in semi-independent living but after handing over her money she would just be left to fend for herself and given no support at all. At one point the family of a girl in the accommodation found out where she was and came round and started screaming and shouting.
"I called her key workers but it had already happened and I just thought not enough was being done for these girls."
The house currently has four girls referred by social services, who will always have someone on hand to offer support.
Services provided at the centre include counselling, employability workshops, life skills and support for care leavers.
And the inspiration for the house, Shantel, is helping the girls in the house to cook while doing her work experience in catering.
Ms Spence added: "My background is as a behavioural consultant and as a mentor, but I have gone through things like bullying at their age so hopefully they are able to identify with us.
"We are not here to put pressure on them; we are here to help them better themselves."
Residents will also be taught budgeting skills and be able to rely on staff for support at this "therapeutic safe haven".
For more information visit skyealexandrahouse.com or e-mail email@example.com