Earlier this year (2019), a multi-agency group made up of the IOW Safeguarding Adults Board, Healthwatch, Inclusion Outright CIC and People Matter received a one-off grant to set up a Safe Places scheme on the Island. With this funding, a network of Safe Places are being developed where adults with learning disabilities can go to get advice and help if they feel vulnerable or unsafe.
Adults with learning disabilities are sometimes singled out when socialising and are then open to being exploited, made fun of or intimidated. This network of 'Safe Places' therefore will ensure individuals with learning disabilities have a trusted and much needed place they can go if they are feeling vulnerable or scared when they are out.
We are excited to be launching this scheme in Newport, with the Isle Help Hub at County Hall being the first Isle of Wight Safe Place. A range of additional Safe Places will be based in community locations such as community centres, travel networks and shops, and there will be a series of engagement events with the local community and through specialist organisations working with higher risk groups.
The Island has joined the well-established National Safe Places scheme for an initial membership period of 5 years, accessing resources and training materials, as well as use of the associated website and app. The Safe Places app can be downloaded onto a mobile phone and the O2 shop have offered to help anyone download the app. This will show the nearest available 'Safe Place' when people are out and about.
By putting this scheme in place, it is hoped that individuals with learning disabilities and autism will feel more confident about accessing their community and enjoying their life on the island to the full, knowing that support can be located if they are feeling vulnerable.
As well as the phone app, each venue will have a prominently displayed sticker in the window. Each Safe Place will be at a trusted location where people can feel safe to ask for assistance.
The front desk staff based at County Hall have all been trained, along with front office staff from Age UK and the Isle Help Hub staff and volunteers who sit at County Hall. The Police Community Support Officers are committed to this scheme and have all attended training. People will be able to ask them for help in finding a location if they see them on patrol.
Other venues who will be displaying the scheme logo are:
- People Matter IW
- Independent Living Centre
- 1 Leisure Medina and Sandown
- The Board Café in Newport
- The Phoenix Project
- West Wight Community and Leisure
- The Gaslight Café at Sandown Train Station
- Lesley's Nutshell in Ventnor
- The Food Banks across the Island
We are in discussion with other venues, such as Wightlink, Red Funnel, Asda, Island Farm and Garden Machinery and many more who we are making contact with going forward.
Any agency or business on the Island can apply to be a 'Safe Place' - free training will be provided, as well as free membership and resources. If you would like more information about becoming a Safe Place, please contact People Matter IW on 01983 241494 and ask for the project coordinator.