Sir George formally launched the Safer Places scheme in Andover - for further details of the scheme, see below.
"I welcome this joint initiative by Hampshire County Council and Andover and District Mencap, aimed at making shopping in the town more reassuring for those with learning difficulty. Simon Tyler and his team at Mencap are to be congratulated for contacting retailers and encouraging them to join the scheme, and place a poster in their window. I urge all retailers to sign up."
The Safer Places Scheme is launched as part of Hampshire County Council’s “Respect Me” initiative, and aims to help vulnerable people. Local shops and businesses that join provide a safe place for them to go to, where a phone call can then be made for the vulnerable person to someone they trust, who will either come and collect them or advise them on what they need to do.
Vulnerable people can carry a “Safer Places” card with them, which will have the contact numbers of people important to them, and if they feel anxious or distressed can enter a shop displaying the Safer Places logo and the staff will offer help and assistance by contacting those numbers on the individual’s card.
The “Safer Places” cards will be given out at the launch and local shops and businesses will be displaying their involvement in the scheme.
The Safe Place scheme is part of a wider “Respect me” campaign which aims to improve the experience of disabled people in the community.
Despite several recent well publicised cases, some disabled people are still victims of bullying and harassment when they go out. Often, this leaves them feeling very vulnerable and afraid. By providing them with a Safe Place to go to, where help and trusted carers can be called, you are helping to improve things for them.
Below is what Simon Tyler said at the launch.
Today I am reminded of something Mother Teresa said…
“Never worry about numbers, help one person at a time, and always start with the persons nearest you.”
And it is the idea of helping people, one at a time that brings us here today.
I’d like to welcome you all to the launch of the safer places scheme…This scheme which is part of a County wide initiative, is a positive way of building on a vibrant community spirit.
The centre of Andover is a lively busy place, mostly this is good and positive, however there are a few, whose behaviour is anti social, and for some people in our community this can be a challenge. These people feel vulnerable and can suffer from anxiety when faced with certain aspects of our society.
We have noticed that in these times the shops, businesses and good people of the town, are fantastic, They offer help and support without question, and they have demonstrated time and time again that they will be there for those in need!
SAFER PLACES is a way of making this natural support easier to give.
We have asked many of the shops and businesses around the town to display the RESPECT ME/ SAFE PLACE LOGO. This will act as a signal to those who feel vulnerable that it is a place they can go to and will be welcomed and helped at times of anxiety and distress.
And I have to say we have been overwhelmed with how positively and actively the local businesses have welcomed this scheme. At a time things are difficult for business, so many people have actively embraced this commitment to their local community. Demonstrating a real groundswell of neighbourhood spirit that is wonderful…. and something we should celebrate and be proud of.
We have also made available these ticket size cards on which the vulnerable person, can write their name and the number of a carer or a friend who they may like to contact in times of distress…Phone A friend…. if you will!
The simplicity of the scheme is that it gives a structure for those involved:
• You Feel anxious, distresses, you want to /need to call someone
• You see the sign and go into the shop…
• Show them your card
• The people will be supportive and caring and will phone the numbers on your card
Just like mother Teresa said, helping people one at a time.
What we have learnt from this in the jargon of politician and care professionals like me is that we live in a socially cohesive integrated and positively diverse community.
Or rather Andover has a very BIG Heart
Thank you for coming today…