Safe spots to help protect the vulnerableBy Stephen Lloyd
March 14, 2013
VULNERABLE people with memory problems, the frail elderly and people with learning difficulties are being helped by a new scheme for Hart residents.
Hart Voluntary Action and Safer Hart launched the Safe Places Scheme for Hart at Byways, a supported housing scheme for people with learning difficulties in Odiham High Street. Hampshire County Council, which has funded the setting up of the Safe Places Scheme, found that if people are harassed or bullied or get scared or lost when they are out, they stop going out.
The scheme is designed to help people who have become worried about going out to regain their independence.
It has been designed so it is simple to use by all members of society but the scheme is currently only open to vulnerable people with memory problems, the frail elderly and those people with learning difficulties.
Shops, businesses, cafés and community organisations have signed up to become a designated Safe Place in the community and have a special logo on their door or window.
Residents at Byways helped decide where safe places were needed in Odiham and manager Sue Swanborough and her team of residents and staff provided a buffet lunch for the launch.
"Although their residents felt very safe in Odiham, they know that anyone coming new to the area my feel scared or lost,” said Megan Ravenhill of Hart Voluntary Action. "This is the perfect scheme for local communities in Hart to work together and support each other.
"Odiham is one of the villages in Hart that is proactively working together to ensure that all its residents are supported in the local community.
"We aim to have six to 10 designated safe places on every high street in Hart, forming a visible network of safe places across our community."
People who want to join or who have relatives that would benefit from the scheme, can apply for a small credit card-sized identity card to have the individual’s name on it, but no other personal details, and the telephone numbers of two trusted adults.
If someone is feeling harassed, bullied, scared or lost they can look for the sticker in a shop, business or community organisations window and go in there to ask for help.
Staff in these designated safe places will either let the person stay on the premises until they feel safe, telephone the trusted adult so that they can speak to the individual, or come and collect them.
Where appropriate they can contact the police if a crime has been committed.
"We know that many shops and local businesses in Hart would do this automatically without a second thought," said Megan. "However, by creating a visible network of safe places it has a placebo effect of making vulnerable people feel safer because they know they could get help if they needed it.
"What is great about this scheme is that because it is Hampshire wide, people can use their ID cards when they travel to other parts of Hampshire."
So far there are six designated safe places in Odiham - Lloyds Chemist, The Co-op, Odiham Cottage Hospital Charity Shop, P&K Electrical and Hardware, Odiham Dental Care and Odiham Health Centre. For more details visit www.hartvolaction.org.uk or www.saferhart.co.uk or call Hart Voluntary Action on 01252 815652.