‘Empowering’ the community through new safe places scheme in Rother

Attendees at the launch

Attendees at the launch

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A new initiative has been set up with the aim of making people with learning disabilities feel safer in their communities.

Rother Voluntary Action (RVA) launched the Safe Place scheme last Thursday (December 3) at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

The scheme, part of an East Sussex-wide initiative funded by Sussex Police, was developed in partnership with the East Sussex Independent Living Team, the Safer East Sussex Partnership and RVA in Rother.

Jan Cutting, head of projects and services for RVA, said: “We were delighted to be part of the development of this scheme to enable people with learning disabilities to have a trusted safe place to go when needed and would like to thank all those who have agreed to take part in this valuable community project.”

The scheme offers a place for someone with a learning disability to go at a time of need and know that they will be assisted to get help.

Each safe place can offer somewhere to sit in a public place, support to make a phone call or get further help and can be identified easily by the Safe Place scheme logo displayed.

The designated safe places in Bexhill are the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill Library, Hastings Furniture Service and the Bexhill Community Support shop and Battle Library, Battle.

Matt West, hate crime co-ordinator for the Safer East Sussex Team, said: “The team supports any project that makes our community a safer environment for vulnerable people. It is intended to roll this project out to the rest of the county.”

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne said: “The simple approach of identifying and establishing accessible safe places for vulnerable people puts some visible and reassuring stepping stones out into the community.

“For people with learning difficulties and people who feel victimised or isolated because of their age or disability, the volunteers and businesses engaged in the Safe Place scheme are sympathetic touch points who understand how to triage some of the quieter but often desperate calls for help.

“Some of these calls for help may be the result of hate crimes and others will need to be addressed by the police.

“Although we are seeing more hate crimes reported in Sussex – a 36 per cent increase – I think we should see this as a positive indication that more people have the confidence that hate crimes against them or somebody else will be dealt with seriously.

“I’m a great believer in empowering communities to help themselves through active citizenship and co-operation.”

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