South East Wales

Monmouthshire 'Safe Places' scheme to help disabled

Safe places sticker

A new scheme providing better support for disabled and vulnerable people is being launched in Monmouthshire.

More than 90 businesses across the county have signed up to the "Safe Places" project.

They will display stickers in their windows, showing they can help wheelchair users and people with Autism or dementia.

Disability charity Monmouthshire People First said it aimed to give more people the confidence to go out.

Businesses taking part in the project - believed to be the first scheme of its type in Wales - have been pre-vetted, with funding from Gwent's police and crime commissioner and The Big Lottery fund.

Image caption Mary Allan said the project came about after many people were left stranded by public transport

Mary Allan, from the charity, said the scheme was in response to disabled people asking for a list of places they could make a phone call, get directions or other help.

She said public transport often let wheelchair users down, while others lost confidence in going out after becoming lost or confused.

"The overwhelming response we've had from the shops and businesses has been fantastic," she said.

"Most of them have said they'd help anyway - we've had some lovely stories about what people have done.

"It's really just formalising it - they'll have a key-fob with the 'Safe Places' logo on it, they'll see the sign in the window and feel confident to go in."

Image caption Terry Christopher said it would make a difference knowing there are businesses providing help

Terry Christopher, who is registered blind, said the scheme could make a real difference to people with disabilities.

"I've become dizzy and disorientated myself on occasion, despite knowing Monmouth inside out," he said.

"If it means that someone can go for a coffee, go for a pint, a meal somewhere or do a bit of shopping, and they've got the confidence to do it, that is life-changing."

Gwent Police said it hopes the prospect of quick and convenient support in the nearest shop, cafe or pub will give disabled people the confidence to report more hate crime committed against them.

The project plans to speak with local taxi companies to work on a similar scheme for transport.

It intends to roll the initiative out to neighbouring Torfaen later this year.

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