Sixteen Haverhill town centre businesses have signed up to an initiative designed at helping disabled people in need of help.
Suffolk County Council was in Haverhill and Lowestoft and August 19 and 20 encouraging businesses to support the ‘Suffolk Stay Safe’ scheme during National Disability Week, while PCSO Kayla Packman from the town’s Safer Neighbourhood Team also endeavoured to get firms to sign up.
High Street businesses Greggs, the arts centre, Iceland, Indulgence, Savers, Star Cars and St Nicholas Hospice Care have all joined, along with Queen Street firms Debra charity shop, Kim’s Kutz, Morleys and Thng Me Bobs.
Also joining are the library and STP Stationary, both in Camps Road, Sense and Sue Ryder charity shops in Jubilee Walks and Weatherspoon’s Drabbet Smock pub, in Peas Hill.
PCSO Packman said: “If people are out in town and have this card with them then they know which businesses can help them.
“There are a lot of vulnerable people in Haverhill and we have three disability liaison officers here so we are seeing what we can do to help as vulnerable people are often quiet and scared to come to the police so it can be better for them to approach a face they know.
“Some of the vulnerable people can get befriended by others and taken advantage of by horrible people so it’s things like that we’re trying to avoid.”
The scheme sees participants receive training and display specially-designed Stay Safe window stickers.
By signing up, they pledge to help anyone who comes to them for support.
As well as supporting people with learning disabilities, the scheme benefits young people who bullied, people with physical disabilities, older people or those who may feel anxious when out in public areas.
People who carry Stay Safe cards, which hold personal information about them including their medical history, communication needs and emergency contacts, can therefore have greater confidence when leaving the house.
The scheme is being launched in Haverhill and Lowestoft by the Suffolk Hate Crime Service. It follows successful rollouts in 16 other towns and villages across Suffolk.
The aim is for every area to be covered by the end of the year.
Suffolk Hate Crime Service constantly works to increase the reporting of hate crime. Between June 2012 and June 2013 there were 608 reports of hate crimes/incidents, 16 per cent of which were disability hate crimes.
Businesses interested in registering as a Stay Safe place and people wanting a Stay Safe card should contact the Suffolk Hate Crime Service via www.suffolkhatecrime.org.uk or contact their local Safer Neighbourhood Team.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, September 12) Echo.