Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

New building planned for young offenders in Leytonstone

Waltham Forest Council has unveiled plans to build a brand new home for its young offenders’ service in Leytonstone The service is currently in Rowan House [...]

Hero for New building planned for young offenders in Leytonstone
What the new building could look like (WF Council)
By Waltham Forest Echo 06 October 2021

Waltham Forest Council has unveiled plans to build a brand new home for its young offenders’ service in Leytonstone

The service is currently in Rowan House in Cecil Road but could move to the site of a disused adult learning centre, about ten minutes’ walk away, as early as 2023.

The council wants to knock down the former centre and build a new two-storey building, which would also educate up to 20 children excluded from school, starting work in January if possible.

However, at an online consultation last month, neighbour Anna Williams warned this would place it on the same road as two existing homes for young homeless people.

She said: “The council have not checked what’s already in North Birkbeck Road. Everybody supports these children living here… but there are quite a number of crimes on a regular basis.

“It feels like you are creating a super-hub for young people to make criminal and unhelpful new connections on our doorstep.”

She was particularly concerned by the period from 3-6pm, when people leaving the new centre could cross paths with young people waiting to be let back inside the homes for the night.

However, Anne-Marie Koroma, who works at the services’ current home in Rowan House, said that, in her experience, children who use the service “do not really want to be hanging around” afterwards.

She said: “We don’t tend to get children congregating because they don’t want to be there, they want to be off.

“It’s also important not to assume that anything that happens in the area is due to children attending the youth offending centre.”

Residents were also told that the council plans to meet with the Single Homeless Project, which runs the homes discussed, to come up with a “management strategy”.

The centre will provide counselling and therapy, as part of its commitment, agreed by full council last December, to treat each young offender as a “child first [and an] offender second”.

The centre for excluded students will also offer counselling and therapy, alongside lessons in Maths, English, construction, catering, music production and computer technology.

It will include a “small-scale sports hall” with space for indoor games, as well as drama and music performances.