North Yorkshire County Council in conjunction with North Yorkshire Police have developed a 'Safe Places' scheme which launched in May 2016.
A 'Safe Place' is where anyone who might need a little bit more help and support when they are out and about in the community can call in to get assistance.
Members of the scheme carry a 'Keep Safe' card and may also have a wristband. On the card there is a call centre number that can be contacted by the Safe Place to check the person's details. The call centre will then contact the person's responders to make sure someone who knows them can come to take them home. The Safe Place will make sure that the person is safe and feels comfortable until their responder is able to attend.
Safe Places cards are nationally recognised and are being implemented across the country.
As part of Hate Crime Awareness Week 2020, Mark Hamblin, Co-Chair of the North Yorkshire Learning Disability Partnership Board speaks to us about the importance the Safe Places Scheme can have in the community.
My name is Mark Hamblin and I am the self-advocate co-chair for the Learning Disability Partnership Board in North Yorkshire. I am also the Safe Places representative for the Partnership Board. I would like share with you some thoughts about the Safe Places scheme in North Yorkshire.
If you look around your town and you see the Safe Places sticker in a window, it means it is part of the Safe Places scheme. The Safe Places scheme is for anyone who needs extra support when they are out-and-about by themselves. For example, people with learning disabilities, autistic people or anyone with a mental health condition or dementia might use this scheme.
The Safe Places scheme is important to me because being a self-advocate, I go all over the place and sometimes I go alone. I often get panic attacks and it is comforting to know that I can go into a Safe Place and staff will get in touch with someone who knows me.
I also know that I can go to a Safe Place venue if I experience a hate crime. If someone is violent, tries to steal from me or calls me a horrible name because I have a learning disability, then I know I need to ring the police. I might feel scared or upset so it is good to know I can walk into a Safe Place and someone will be there to help me.
I joined the Safe Places scheme in 2013 and it is free to join. If you join the North Yorkshire Safe Places scheme you get a card which you can show to the staff working at the Safe Place. It has your emergency contact details on and it also has images on it. If you are having trouble speaking you can point to the images so that people know why you have come in. For instance, if I am lost but I can’t talk because I am having a panic attack I can point to the picture of a lost person and get help from the staff.
A lot of people still don’t know about Safe Places in North Yorkshire. That’s why we have written an easy read letter to businesses and some Top Tips to explain what staff need to do if anyone comes in with a Safe Places card. We want more people to know about the Safe Places scheme and what they need to do if they want to use it and also get more businesses signed up to be a Safe Place!
To find out more and sign up to join the North Yorkshire Safe Places scheme please click on this link on your computer https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/safe-places
Thank you and stay safe.
Co-Chair, North Yorkshire Learning Disability Partnership Board
For more information about the scheme in North Yorkshire and to view Safe Places locations, please visit: www.northyorks.gov.uk/safeplaces .
Alternatively, contact the Safer Communities team: NorthYorkshireSaferCommunities@northyorks.gov.uk