December 13 2013 Latest news:
By richard batson
Friday, December 7, 2012
A network of safe havens where the vulnerable can get help has been launched at Cromer in a scheme that could spread to the rest of Norfolk.
Card-carrying members with special needs can drop into businesses carrying a “safe place” window sticker if they are feeling in trouble.
There they will be met with a friendly face, who can call their carers or families, and can relax until help arrives.
The scheme was launched in three businesses at Cromer - Café Main, the Little Gem Shop and Red Lion pub - with another seven due to follow shortly.
It is being led by the police and the Open Doors disability charity.
Sgt Caroline Adams from Norfolk police’s diversity team said they were aware of a similar scheme winning awards in Devon and Cornwall, and after a fact-finding visit to Exeter a year ago, decided it could work in Norfolk too. Expansion of the scheme would be looked into after a six month review of the Cromer pilot.
People on the county’s disability forum had highlighted problems when they felt bullied, verbally and physically, overwhelmed by crowds, or had lost money when they were out - and did not know where to go for help.
Under the Safer Places scheme they would know where the local havens were, and could drop in and show their yellow cards containing the names and phone numbers of two contacts.
Local disability forum member Robert Harrington said it would be a great comfort as he sometimes felt worried while in town, if people stared at him and his girlfriend Sarah Elderfield.
“This will help get people out of trouble,” he added.