Can you offer a Safe Place to support those who need a little help?

This story was published 15 October 2021

People with a learning disability and autistic people have created a video that highlights the importance of safe places.

Mark from safe places

As part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, self-advocates from North Yorkshire Learning Disability Partnership Board have recorded all the things they can do when they feel safe, including meeting friends, going out in their wheelchair, learning new things and enjoying their lives.

In conjunction with North Yorkshire Police, we have developed a Safe Places scheme in 2016. A Safe Place is somewhere anyone who might need a little help and support can go when they are out and about.

Members of the scheme carry a Keep Safe card and may also have a wristband. The card include a call centre number that can be contacted by the Safe Place. The call centre will then contact the person’s responders to make sure someone who knows them can come to take them home. Safe Places can include libraries, police stations and businesses.

County Councillor Leader Cllr Carl Les said: “During Hate Crime Awareness Week, we would encourage any businesses that can to consider whether they could offer a Safe Place. This could be anywhere that can provide a safe and friendly environment.

“Self-advocates, who speak up about things that are important to them and other people with a learning disability or autism, identified Safe Places as one of the things that helps them to feel safe when they are out and about.”

Police Constable Stuart Henderson, North Yorkshire Police Hate Crime Coordinator, said: “Safe places are integral to both keeping people safe and helping them to feel safe within their community. Safe Places can be used for a multitude of things, from seeking help or calling a relative if someone feels unwell, to helping and supporting someone if they are a victim of crime. Safe Places can help in many situations and we are proud to say that all North Yorkshire Police premises are included in the scheme and are dedicated safe places.”

Mark Hamblin is the self-advocate co-chair of North Yorkshire Learning Disability Partnership Board and the self-advocate Safe Places Champion.

He and another self-advocate, Gary, drew a poster about what helps them feel safe, including Safe Places. Gary and Mark both said they feel safer knowing Safe Places are there.

Mark said: “Because of my health problems, when I'm out and about in town I would use one if I felt unwell or unsafe or if I was having a panic attack.”

Mark has written a blog about the importance of Safe Places where there are also tips for Safe Places organisations.

Learn more about joining the Safe Places scheme.