Melton Borough Council

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"Safe places" to help in-need Christmas shoppers

Published Wednesday, 11th December 2013

New additional support is available to shoppers using “safe havens” established in busy retail areas across Leicester and Leicestershire.

In the run-up to Christmas, shoppers are reminded that Keep Safe Places are available for anyone who feels vulnerable, upset, scared or distressed in town centres. Set up in libraries and shops, including Age UK shops and businesses, staff can offer immediate reassurance to anyone that needs it.

Changes to the scheme mean that users now also have the option of being referred to First Contact, a multi-agency initiative that checks if people would benefit from a host of services and advice such as getting the right benefits, smoke alarms, help with their finances or support for carers.

The scheme has been developed by the county council in partnership with the police, city and district / borough councils, local community partnerships and Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland.

Joe Orson, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for community safety, said: “With Christmas coming and town and city centres becoming increasingly busier, we want people to know there are ‘safe havens’ they can go to if they are feeling upset, scared or distressed.

“Staff can offer basic support, including a place to sit down and contacting friends or relatives if necessary – or the emergency services if required.

“The additional offer of support from the First Contact scheme means people can also obtain help from various agencies which could also benefit them in the longer term.”

Leicester Assistant City Mayor for neighbourhood services, Cllr Sarah Russell, said: "I'm delighted that so many partners have been able to work together to provide this important service at such high-profile locations.

"It will help ensure those who are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable can get support when they need it."

Lynne Woodward, Head of Equality for Leicestershire Police, said: “Keep Safe Places is a nationally recognised scheme and is aimed at helping people feel confident and safe in the community.  They can be used by anyone who feels vulnerable or unsafe and we encourage everyone to get to know where their local Keep Safe Places are.” 

Keep Safe Places display special stickers. A full list of Keep Safe Places, as well as further information on the scheme, is available at: www.leics.gov.uk/keepsafeplaceschemes