Safe Places is just that. Public locations such as shops, cafes or libraries that are signed up to the scheme to provide a recognisable safe place for people to seek advice, reassurance and help.
The scheme gives people with learning disability, dementia or autism the confidence to get out and about in their community but with the reassurance that there is help available should they need to deal with difficult situations. This could be anything from getting lost, losing a mobile phone or feeling harassed or bullied.
Shops, cafes and other public places/spaces can register with the scheme, which is run by the police, local council and other partners. They then display the Safe Place logo in their window, so they can be easily identified.
The users of the scheme carry a card which gives details of their nominated contact person and basic details about themselves, which they can give to the person helping them in the Safe Place. This allows the person to help them more effectively.
The user will get simple advice, reassurance or if necessary the Safe Place may contact someone else to help, for example the person named on the card, the police or the ambulance service.
Avon and Somerset Police, local councils and organisations such as Cambian Lufton College (formerly Mencap) are working in partnership to deliver Safe Places across the area.
Details of all Safe Place locations and how to join the scheme are available on various websites including local authorities and the Avon and Somerset Police website. The locations are also shown on Google maps which means it will possible to plan a route, journey or day out based on where Safe Places are available.
The Safe Places Scheme is already running successfully in other parts of the UK. Devon and Cornwall have been using the scheme for over three years and it has had a positive impact on the users of the scheme.
Crime Reduction Officer Beth Poole, who has helped set up the scheme in South Somerset and Mendip, said: “We want everyone to be safe and feel safe when they’re out and about in Avon and Somerset, in particular the most vulnerable members of our communities. We hope this scheme, as in other areas where it’s already in use, will make our communities feel more accessible, give vulnerable people a greater sense of freedom and a better quality of life, as well as raising awareness about the issues faced by adults with learning disabilities, dementia or autism when out and about.