Former Thai restaurant in Derby city centre will be turned into a 'safe space' for vulnerable kids

Thai Dusit will be transformed into a space for vulnerable young peopleThai Dusit will be transformed into a space for vulnerable young people
Thai Dusit will be transformed into a space for vulnerable young people
Work is due to start imminently and is expected to take around six months to complete

A former Thai restaurant in Derby city centre is set to be turned into a safe space by a charity specialising in safeguarding children.

Safe and Sound, a charity that tackles child sexual exploitation, has secured the purchase of 8 Bold Lane in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter.

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It is the site of Thai Dusit, an eatery that announced closure citing the ‘current economic climate.’

The charity aims to create a safe place in Derby city centre for young people and families where a specialist team will support them to help rebuild lives.

The charity will also make space available for other charities and organisations to deliver their services.

Safe and Sound works with children as young as seven, young people and their families across Derbyshire whose lives have been affected by child exploitation.

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This includes online grooming, sexual exploitation, County Lines, trafficking, modern slavery and radicalisation.

The charity is currently based in rented offices in Darley Abbey and rents further space for activity and therapy work.

Thanks to £250,000 funding from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Community Ownership Fund, plans are now being drawn up for the restoration and refurbishment work required to make the three-storey building fit for purpose.

Work is due to start imminently and take around six months to complete.

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Plans for former Derby city restaurant

The vision is to provide safe and welcoming ground-floor space for a community hub and a wide range of activities delivered by both Safe and Sound and other youth and family-focused organisations including YMCA, Derby County Community Trust and Umbrella.

The flexibility of the space will enable activities and therapies to be expanded ranging from arts and crafts and music to drama and sport.

The other two floors will include space for 121 and group support, meetings and workshops.

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There will also be office space for Safe and Sound’s team and volunteers who are based there.

Safe and Sound say last year, they supported 343 children and young people who had been victims of, or at risk of child exploitation.

The charity largely works with 7-18 year olds but includes up to 25 if there are special educational needs and or disability (SEND) issues or children leaving care.

The charity offers a range of programmes to help young people understand what has happened to them, rebuild their confidence and move onto a place of emotional safety, protected from further harm.

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Safe and Sound chair Mark Richardson, who is a director of BBJ Commercial, has been working with fellow trustees, CEO Tracy Harrison and key partners in the city to bring the vision to reality.

The purchase of 8 Bold Lane was the culmination of two years’ discussions and site visits.

It was a ‘milestone moment’ for Safe and Sound, the wider voluntary sector and for the vibrancy of the city centre.

Mr Richardson said: “We have outgrown our rented offices in Darley Abbey Mills and there has always been a desire to have city centre premises to provide a safe and welcoming space for the young people and families that our specialist team supports.

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“I am delighted that we have found the premises that will be the long-term home for everyone who works at and is supported by Safe and Sound as well as providing much needed accessible space for other organisations supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our local communities.

Read more: What's On in Derby?

“The property has been vacant for some time and is in disrepair so this is an excellent opportunity to see it brought back to life.

“Its location next to the Electric Daisy environmental social enterprise further brings new cultural diversity and community to the area.”

CEO Tracy Harrison outlined the importance of upscaling facilities and capacity to support young people and their families whose lives had been affected by child exploitation.

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She said: “Referrals for our services have doubled since the pandemic – reflecting the reality that any child, anywhere - regardless of their age, sex or family background - is at risk of child exploitation.

“The Bold Lane premises will be an amazing community asset.

“Our youth participation and parents as peers groups will continue to be heavily involved in the project plan – advising us on the facilities they want and we will continue to consult with our Youth Alliance partners throughout the process to ensure that this facility will benefit everyone.”

Mrs Harrison continued: “With the purchase secured, the Community Ownership Fund grant has enabled us to move quickly on the renovation of the property and we hope to be ready to open our doors in early 2025.

“We still have a long shopping list of equipment that we want to buy and special features that we want to include in the community hub so will be stepping up our efforts through the Butterfly Appeal to make this a reality.”

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