Scheme helps disabled people’s voices to be heard

CELEBRATE ... Your Voice Counts says thank you to supporters who have helped make its Safe Places Scheme a success.
CELEBRATE ... Your Voice Counts says thank you to supporters who have helped make its Safe Places Scheme a success.

A SCHEME which supports people with disabilities in South Tyneside has marked its growing success with a celebration.

Your Voice Counts (YVC) launched its Safe Places window sticker project last October with only a few venues on board.

Eight months on, the scheme has more than 30 places offering people with learning and mental health disabilities a place they can go if they need help or assistance.

To mark its success, the charity – which acts as an advocate for people with learning and mental health disabilities – hosted a celebration and awareness-raising event at the Central Library in South Shields.

The event was part of Learning Disabilities Week.

The scheme works by organisations displaying a safe places sticker in their window which people can recognise and if they need assistance.

They will be able to speak to a member of staff who has been trained.

The person will then either contact the person’s carer, family member or, if needed, the emergency services.

Carole Watson, an involvement worker for YVC, said: “We launched the scheme in October and it has grown beyond all our expectations.

“We have had so much support from various venues, businesses and mental health charities.

“We thought learning disabilities week would be an ideal opportunity to celebrate its success and to say thank you to those who have helped to establish the safe places scheme in South Tyneside.

“It really has gone beyond all our expectations. We thought it would be difficult to get people to buy into the idea, but we really have had a lot of support.

The scheme has 30 places across the borough that are now classed as ‘safe’.

During the event at the library, people were able to find out more about the scheme and hear from guest speaker Graeme Littlewood from the council’s Community Safety Team.

Mrs Watson said: “The event itself was fantastic and the group really enjoyed it.

“Some of the members wrote and performed a thank you song at the event which was attended by more than 90 people.”

Organisations already signed up to the Safe Places Scheme include the borough’s eight libraries, Re-Design4U in Fowler Street, South Shields, MIND, South Tyneside Homes, Perth Green Community Centre, Nexus and Blissability.

The scheme has also received support from Sunderland People First, Better Days Advocacy group based in Newcastle.

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa