Helping people with learning disabilities to ‘Keep Safe’

Keep Safe is a community safety scheme run in partnership with learning disabilities charity Herts People First and Hertfordshire Constabulary

WELWYN GARDEN CITY — A scheme that aims to support people with learning disabilities to keep themselves safe and to get help in the event of an emergency when out and about was launched at the end of last week in Welwyn Garden City. 

Keep Safe is a community safety scheme run in partnership with learning disabilities charity Herts People First and Hertfordshire Constabulary who work together and with local people with learning disabilities to invite local retailers, businesses, public and community services to join and to provide people with learning disabilities a place to make a phone call in the event of an emergency and to contact a parent, carer or support worker, the police or another emergency service as need be.

Premises signed up to the scheme are easily identifiable to people with learning disabilities by the orange ‘Keep Safe’ sticker displayed in their windows.

People with learning disabilities carry an in case of emergency, telephone number on their Keep Safe card, keyring or in an easy to find place on their mobile phone.

The launch event started at Oaklands College with students who have been taking part in Keep Safe training putting up a sticker on the front reception window – soon followed by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Waitrose, John Lewis, Bebo Café, the Library and the Howard Centre. The YMCA Space provided a place for everyone taking part to meet and have refreshment and also joined the Keep Safe scheme on the day by placing a sticker in their window.

Currently Hertfordshire has in the region of 300 Keep Safe premises and the Constabulary is working to increase this number. In Welwyn Garden City during June and July the orange Keep Safe stickers will be put up in many more joining premises in the town centre and surrounding areas in Welwyn and in Hatfield.

Neighbourhood Inspector for Welwyn Hatfield, Ian Grout said: “This scheme has been organised by PCSO Christina Cooper, in conjunction with Herts People First. It has been well received by the shops and businesses in the town centre and I thank them for their support.

“It means that there’s lots of places people with learning disabilities can go if they need to get support and help, whether it be to ask for a police officer if they have been a victim of, or witnessed a crime, or assistance from another emergency service or someone who is close to them.

“I’d encourage anyone who isn’t already signed up to the scheme to contact Christina to find out more.”

Keep Safe Co-ordinator for Herts People First Jane Dellow said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Constabulary to introduce Keep Safe across the county. I especially want to thank Oaklands College students and local residents with a learning disability for working so hard to set up Keep Safe in Welwyn Garden City.

“Sometimes people with learning disabilities are not sure about approaching the police for help, however when working in a team with their local officers to set up Keep Safe, they get the chance to meet the people behind the uniforms and soon realise there is nothing to fear and it is the same for local officers who get to meet the people behind the disability.

“People with learning disabilities really like the Keep Safe community safety scheme – and say that it is reassuring for them to know where they can get help and support if need be and how their local community, business and services are so welcoming of the scheme.”

Pam Hill, Learning for Living and Work Lecturer, commented: “The Keep Safe scheme, which is vital to those with learning disabilities, is so important to the College, as part of our commitment to our community.

“Our students have loved being involved with the project, and it’s so reassuring to know that the whole community; the police, and their support services, health and community services and partnerships, County Councillors, charities and retailers in Welwyn Garden City are supporting the scheme.

“The College was the first premise to put up the Keep Safe sticker, showing that students and the wider community can come in and know that we can provide them with the reassurance they need to feel safe.”

Student, Steven Ledger, commented: “The launch has been so exciting. Today is all about encouraging others to keep safe.”

Student, Gavin Kenned, added: “If someone’s in trouble, hurt, scared, or even if they were going somewhere and their bus is late, they now know that they can phone for safety.”

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