A LOCAL community group is appealing for more venues to sign-up to its ‘Safe Places’ scheme to support vulnerable people across Northumberland’s towns and rural communities.

Amble-based Splinter Group supports more than 40 young adults with learning differences though a range of support sessions, social events and community initiatives such as ‘Safe Places’.

The ‘Safe Places’ scheme is part of a national network designed to help vulnerable people if they feel scared or at risk while they are out and about in the community and need support right away.

Earlier this year, Splinter Group was awarded almost £4,000 in funding from Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness to help them expand the scheme locally to support people with learning difficulties throughout the pandemic – a time of heightened anxieties for many.

Local venues that are already on board include Blyth Community Enterprise Centre, Costa Coffee and Newbiggin Maritime Centre.

Now, members of the group are calling on other local supermarkets, coffee shops and bus stations to get in touch to see if they can help the number of Safe Spaces grow in our region.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “It’s so important that everyone is given the support they need to go about their life. Safe Places are a simple, yet effective way to ensure that support is always nearby. If you are lost, you have your wallet stolen, have been bullied or are generally feeling anxious, a Safe Place will have a sticker on its window representing that help is on offer there, everything is OK.”

She continued: “Everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable when out in their communities and this scheme helps grow people’s confidence, helping people live independently. It can give reassurance to parents and loved ones too.

“With all that’s going on right now, we can’t afford to forget the needs of our vulnerable people – people are still catching buses, going to the shops and they could feel vulnerable at any time. That’s why schemes like this are vital. Everyone involved at Splinter Group should be so proud of everything they’ve achieved to get this scheme up and running and the more venues who get on board, the better.”

Frank of the SpLinter Group explains: “It’s important for there to be local, trained places where anxious people can call in, maybe stay while they calm down and work out what to do, then go on their way. It’s especially important at the moment and we are really pleased that PCC Kim McGuinness has recognised what we are trying to do.”

Sue Patirence from Gallery Youth Project, one of the Safe Places, a venue already on board, said: “We are really pleased to have benefited from the Safe Places training run by people who really understand what it can be like to be anxious when out and about. It’s great to be part of a scheme that can offer people a safe and welcoming space to help them recover and go on their way.”

Commissioner, Kim McGuinness is currently running a public consultation survey on Fighting Crime, Preventing Crime. As part of this she is seeking views on what work needs to be done to support young people in our communities. To have your say visit: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/PCPConsultation20/