AN INTERACTIVE safety centre which has educated hundreds of thousands of children in more than 20 years is set to close its doors.

SafeWise in West Howe, formerly known as Streetwise, provides life-like scenarios for children to learn how to keep themselves safe.

Its realistic roads, railway, beach and even a full-size house have been bringing lessons to life for 22 years.

But the coronavirus crisis has left it unable to invite children to its site and unable to afford the rent.

It is about to go into voluntary liquidation with its six staff set to be made redundant.

SafeWise is operated by a charity and scores of volunteers help to run the site.

In a letter to volunteers, Chief Executive Rob Hattersley said: “It is with huge regret that I must inform you that SafeWise trustees are about to place the charity in voluntary liquidation, with all staff made redundant. The building will be handed back to the landlord by the appointed liquidator.

“This is due to a huge drop in income during Covid-19, plus withdrawal of support from the Fire Service, and an expensive lease on a building we cannot really use.

“This sad news in no way detracts from the experiences we have provided together to over 270,000 children in the past 22 years. For that we are hugely grateful to all of you, our partners, and the staff team.”

For more than two decades the centre, in Elliott Road, has hosted young people from schools, play groups and numerous community organisations.

A similar centre which operated in Weymouth also closed its doors earlier this year

Mr Hattersley said he had hoped to save SafeWise with a digital offer to schools.

But not enough schools have subscribed and it is not currently viable.

He has now started a Community Interest Company called 360 Skills For Life which will be offered online.

Eventually he hopes to take it into schools when Covid-19 restrictions no longer apply.

He added: “I understand that schools currently have a lot to cope with but hope it will be possible in the future.”

Anyone who wishes to get in touch can do so by contacting