Two youth workers are setting up a safe haven for girls in Croydon who have been caught up in gang violence.

Sherica Spence, 28, of South Norwood and Natasha Boxill, 32, are set to open Skye Alexandra House in June to help vulnerable girls including those affected by gangs.

The pair have a history of working with young people but want to offer a service specifically to house women aged 16 to 18.

Miss Spence, who was a close friend of teenager Shakilus Townsend before he was murdered in a honey trap sting in 2008, said they are also running workshops in schools and with young women up to the age of thirty.

Girls will be referred to the house by Croydon Council’s social services.

They will then stay at the four bedroom house where they will get one to one support, counselling and life skills training.

In recent weeks the Croydon Guardian has published a series of articles on girls and gangs with a number of hard hitting case studies highlighting some of the ordeals girls are put through whilst they are in gangs.

Croydon Guardian:

Sherica Spence 

Miss Spence said more work needs to be done before girls get to secondary school on highlighting the dangers in getting involved in gangs.

She said she was concerned that up until recently a lot of preventative work had been done with boys rather than girls and that needed to change if progress is to be made.

The mother of one also highlighted the murder of her close friend Shakilus Townsend as an example of girls being used by gangs or groups of men.

She said: "It is mine and Natasha's passion to work with young girls who have been affected by gangs and other issues.

"The girls that will be coming here and staying here will be vulnerable and many of them may well have gone through gang violence. We want to help them.

"Compared to the past, girls and gangs is a different level now. Shakilus was a close friend of mine, he was murdered and that was to do with a honeytrap.

"That girl needed someone who could talk to her and guide her. Girls need to be taught that some of these guys will say anything to get the girls to listen and to do what they want."

For more information on Skye Alexendra House and to donate towards the project go to