When the local community joins forces, everyone can feel safe

MORE support for people with learning disabilities across Warwickshire has now been made available as the nation marks Learning Disability Week, which ended on Sunday.

The county council, Warwickshire Police, the Learning Disability Partnership Board and the charity Mencap have joined forces to launch a new scheme that aims to put an end to disability-related ‘hate crime’.

The Warwickshire Safe Places scheme provides vulnerable people with dedicated areas to go to if they are in need of a safe haven.

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Among them is the Within Reach cafe in Warwick, which opened this month - and the venture, which has already extended to Tesco and Boots branches and libraries in the county, is set to expand over the next 12 months.

Shops and businesses taking part in the scheme display the Safe Place badge in their window, which means they can provide support and report any abuse, as well as extra help if people feel uncomfortable carrying out their day-to-day activities.

County councillor Izzi Seccombe, who manages policy on adult social care, said: “For too long, vulnerable people have been prevented from doing the everyday things we take for granted for fear of being harassed, bullied or attacked.

“By joining forces with the whole community and showing the Safe Place symbol in as many places as possible, we can give people confidence to lead fulfilled lives in their communities.”

Philip Hetherington of Mencap added: “The under-reporting of hate crime against people with a learning disability in Warwickshire needs to be urgently addressed.

“People with a learning disability need to feel safe and confident that their concerns will be dealt with effectively by the authorities. The Safe Places scheme is a positive approach to ensure that these crimes are reported to the police.”

Businesses wishing to get involved in the scheme or find out should contact the Warwickshire Learning Disability Partnership Board Office on 742414 or visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/safeplaces

Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of or witnessed hate crime can call the police’s hate crime helpline, 0845 129 2221.