A councillor is ‘absolutely delighted’ with a scheme that aims to help vulnerable and disabled people that was recently launched in Haverhill.
Sixteen Haverhill town centre businesses have signed up to the Stay Safe 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.
The council now plans to extend the scheme in other areas too.
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.
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.
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the continuing success of this scheme, and our plans to extend it to other areas.
“It will give vulnerable people a sense of safety and security should they find themselves in a challenging situation.
“I really hope as many businesses as possible will sign up - I am pleased to be able to launch the scheme in line with Learning Disability Week and look forward to seeing the results.”
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 Thursday’s (September 19) Echo.