08 April 2013

'Keep Safe' Makes Essex Chronicle page 2

The Launch of the ‘Keep Safe’ scheme at the Plume School made page 2 of the Essex Chronicle this week. This fun evening MCd by Brian Collen was attended by over 20 Maldon Pioneers who enjoyed an evening learning about the scheme and explored some of the typical scenarios which may confront Pioneers while out and about in Maldon. This was done using drama when a talented team of Plume students acted out the situations and asked Richard and Adam to take part. Ali Burlington (MDC – Community Safety Development Officer) delivered a presentation explaining how the scheme works. Chris Rust (MDC – Community Development Officer) had brought along the button badge maker and set up a table allowing guests to make Keep Safe badges. Refreshments were served half way through the evening when all had the chance to catch up with one another and talk to the guests. Two of the venues, Tesco and the Heart Foundation shop were represented as well as Maldon’s PCSOs headed by Sarah Hardy. Thank you to all who came, those volunteers who helped with transport and supported the Pioneers! Also thanks to Plume School Community team for hosting the event and helping us to plan and execute the event.

On Thursday 14 March many Pioneers made button badges for the project as part of Thursday Group activities and I understand from reports I’ve had from Pioneers, they had a fun time and really enjoyed playing an active role! this is a very positive start!

The ‘Keep Safe’ scheme is a really simple idea and involves identifying and establishing ‘Safe Havens’ where Adults with Learning Difficulties can go if they feel in danger or feel fearful, while going about their everyday business in and around Maldon. The Maldon Pioneers are being seen as partners in the implementation of the scheme in Maldon and the first stage was to ask the Pioneers to suggest places in Maldon where they said they felt safe and would like to be designated as a ‘Keep Safe refuge’ or a ‘venue’ ?

An initial number of venues have already been approached and invited to sign up to the scheme and are then going to be asked to display a poster or yellow sticker which will identify them as a ‘Safe haven’. The scheme member will be asked to sign up and then will be given a Keep Safe Key-ring plus a Concertina Name card, which they will be asked to complete and carry on them, giving trusted contact details of someone they would like to be contacted in the event of a crisis?

All that is asked of the venue staff, is to allow the person who presents themselves in distress with a reassuring welcome and an opportunity to use a phone to contact the person on the card. How simple is that?

Although that’s the scheme in a nutshell, it becomes clear that its more than just providing a Keep-Safe refuge, it’s actually about being prepared to be a Good Samaritan and not finding excuses to look the other way? Its just looking out for the ‘vulnerable in our society’ and in an ideal world we (a) wouldn’t need a scheme to encourage this to happen and (b) the vulnerable wouldn’t feel vulnerable in the first place. But we don’t live in an ideal world. It’s interesting that in areas where the scheme is already in operation its very rare that the venues are ever used, however its the reassurance the scheme gives that’s important. It has had considerable results it providing the added confidence to Adults with a Learning Disability to venture out into the community without fear and knowing they have people who they can turn to.

Over and above the success of Keep Safe the scheme is also having wider benefits. Just by having a dialogue with the PCSO team we can establish an on going support structure where Pioneers can get to know the uniformed PCSOs who operate in Maldon and this will build trust and foster an on-going relationship where fears or issues that impact on Pioneers’ lives can be addressed instead of swept under the carpet!

The Plume School Community team are supporting the initiative and even though a school may not feel it’s appropriate to be identified as a ‘venue’ Jean and Marilyn have been instrumental in helping bring things together, Thank you! If its difficult to be a Keep safe’ venue then people can perhaps support the scheme in other ways. Being able to work with the school gives added value by feeding into student learning and provides young people with learning and character developing opportunities. It helps to create community focused citizens for tomorrow and demonstrates the positive and responsible face of young people in our schools today!

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