Helping the vulnerable stay safe

Councillor John Greenwell, SBC's equality and diversity champion, helped launch the Keep Safe in the Scottish Borders scheme.
Councillor John Greenwell, SBC's equality and diversity champion, helped launch the Keep Safe in the Scottish Borders scheme.

A new scheme to create safe places for vulnerable people to go to – Keep Safe in the Scottish Borders – arrived in Galashiels on Monday.

The Scottish Borders Safer Communities Team has been working with partners including Police Scotland, Scottish Borders Council, NHS Borders and representatives of the third sector to help deliver the scheme.

It was first piloted in Renfrewshire and launched locally in Kelso last month.

The aim is to create safe places for people to go if they are lost, scared, need help or are the victim of crime.

Sergeant Justin Hulford, Police Scotland, said: “This is a great scheme that will help local people and those visiting the area know where they can get help if they need it.

“The logo is being used nationally and we expect this will provide help and safety to those that need it.

“Initially this will support people with learning disabilities, but we intend to expand who can use this scheme in due course, and spread it across the Scottish Borders in 2016.”

The Kelso launch last month saw eight local businesses confirming their support for the scheme and others considering supporting the initiative in the town.

Councillor John Greenwell, SBC’s champion for equality and diversity, said: “I was very pleased to launch the Keep Safe initiative in Kelso, which is all about keeping our vulnerable adults safe from harm, and I am delighted that shopkeepers and businesses have engaged with this project and are willing to offer a safe place for vulnerable people should they feel unsafe.

“During the launch we heard from a number of potential Keep Safe users about their experiences when they felt unsafe and from the number of questions at the end it was clear that this is going to be a very welcome project.”

Kelso and Galashiels are involved in the Scottish Borders pilot, which will initially be for people with learning disabilities and then be expanded geographically and in terms of those using the scheme.

People that use Keep Safe in the Scottish Borders will have a card that has information about their health, how they communicate and details of people who can help them.

Shops and other premises in the local communities sign up to the initiative and make it clear to users by way of a window sticker showing the Keep Safe logo.

Anyone needing assistance would then enter premises and staff will then assist the person, which could be as simple as offering directions.

However, if the person has been the victim of harassment, abuse or crime, the staff member can use the person’s Keep Safe card to contact someone who can help or contact the police or another service if the situation requires it.