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Thetford parents start community youth project after attack on daughter

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A Thetford couple whose 12-year-old daughter was videoed being attacked by bullies have set up a community project creating a safe place for children.

Ben Lacey and Rhonda Mulcahy set up the Thetford Youth Community project following the assault on Talia on August 29, after the video was put up on social media.

Ben said: “People saw it and rallied around her with such lovely support, which was brilliant.

Ben and Rhonda with some of the activities the project has to offer. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Ben and Rhonda with some of the activities the project has to offer. Picture by Mecha Morton.

“Rhonda then decided to go to our local park and talk to the children to find out what sort of things they wanted to do to keep them from just hanging around the streets and with that the project grew.”

Teaming up with the Keystone Development Trust, a charitable organisation working in and around Thetford, Brandon and Mildenhall, the project opened at it’s Innovation Centre, in Croxton Road, on November 3.

The free Wednesday sessions, between 4pm and 7pm, for Year 6 to 11 schoolchildren have been inundated with attendees and Ben said the feedback has been great.

He said: “It has gone like a steam train - from an idea a couple of months ago to where we are now.

“There are children out there who stay at home because they do not want to go out for reasons such as bullying, but we hope this group will show that everyone is equal here and we can all help to support each other.”

Rhonda also runs 11 - Teen Boutique, which gives pre-loved clothes to families for 11 to 19 year-olds and the pair have also linked that with the project as well.

Their next plan, called Safe Zone, is to ensure children can feel safe around the town, with the new initiative starting in December.

Ben said: “We will provide businesses with a sticker for their windows and children will be taught in their school that if they do feel unsafe they can go into these and say a safe word.

“The people running the shop will then get in contact with a parent, carer or guardian - we have around 60 stickers being printed and places really want to be a part of it, so hopefully that can help keep children safe too.”