South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) is the latest organisation to sign up to the Safe Places scheme, a network of places that people with learning disabilities can go to if they feel unsafe or vulnerable.
Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Police and the Learning Disability Partnership Board joined forces to launch Safe Places in Warwick district in June 2012. The scheme has since spread around the county.
Fear of persecution – motivated by hate, prejudice or hostility – prevents many people with learning disabilities from going out and about. The threat is all too real. National research suggests 9 out of 10 people with a learning disability have been targeted with verbal harassment or violence.
All people with learning disabilities have been given a wallet or purse-sized Hate Crime Reporting Card to take with them when they go out. The cards carry helpline numbers along with space to enter the contact details of family-members, carers or support-workers.
Councillor Jose Compton, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care, said: “It is essential that all members of our community feel safe and secure when they are out in Warwickshire and I’m supportive of any initiative that helps vulnerable people.
“People feel safer going out into the community when they know there are Safe Places nearby. I’m delighted that Warwick Hospital is part of the scheme.”
Helen Lancaster, Director of Nursing at SWFT said: “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Police and the Learning Disability Partnership Board to launch this scheme.
“We want to promote SWFT as a safe place for vulnerable people and hope other organisations will get involved so a real support network is developed.”
Jo-An Golding, Tactical Equality & Diversity Adviser for Warwickshire Police, said: “Warwickshire Police are delighted that the ‘Safe Places Scheme’ continues to go from strength to strength and are particularly pleased to hear that Warwick Hospital is the latest location to be added to the growing number of Safe Places in and around Warwickshire.
“Ensuring that every person in our community is able to participate in all aspects of life without fear is so important to us. So having accessible locations throughout the county, such as Warwick Hospital, means that those individuals in need of help or support, can easily use these sites as a place of refuge.
“We would like to remind everyone to report all incidents of hate to the Police using 101 or in an emergency, 999. Together, we can ensure that Warwickshire continues to be one of the safest places to live, work and play, for everyone.”
The hospital will display Safe Places stickers in their windows so that people with learning disabilities know they can go there if they feel vulnerable or threatened.
For a list of organisations and businesses that are registered as ‘Safe Places’, or if your business or organisation is interested in joining the Safe Places scheme, go to www.warwickshire.gov.uk/safeplaces.