Rachel and Olivia outside of Age UK Portsmouth, one of the Safe Places
Rachel and Olivia outside of Age UK Portsmouth, one of the Safe Places

A new scheme is launching across Portsmouth this week to provide help or support for any adult who feels vulnerable or unsafe while they are out and about.

The Safe Places scheme will see a network of organisations across the city available for people to drop into if they need help or somewhere to take a few minutes to rest.

Local organisations and businesses can sign up to be part of the network by promising to provide a quiet and calm space for someone to sit, to listen to any problems, and to make a phone call to a family member, friend, or emergency services if necessary.

Safe Places will welcome any adult who feels vulnerable, particularly people with learning disabilities, dementia, mental health issues, physical disabilities, autism, and older people.

Businesses and organisations that are part of the Safe Places scheme will display a sticker in their window and will be listed on the free Safe Places app, which is available to download on all smartphones. Any adult can also carry a Safe Places card with them. The card explains any special needs they might have and will list the name and number of a carer or family member to call in an emergency.

Some of the local organisations that have signed up to the scheme include: Age UK Portsmouth, Portsmouth Libraries, and Portsmouth Job Centre.

Tracey Glavin at Age UK Portsmouth said:

“We’re proud to be part of the scheme. We’ve got the ideal space for it, there’s always someone at the front desk, and it’s a nice secure space. If people feel overwhelmed, they’ll be able to see a sign and think ‘this is one of the places I can go’. We can make sure they’re feeling comfortable and safe. And if they’re carrying their card, they don’t even need to speak if they feel uncomfortable.”

The council has worked with Dynamite, the voice of young people in Portsmouth with a disability or special educational need, to establish the scheme.

Rachel and Olivia, members of Dynamite (pictured), said:

“I get nervous in crowds so I would definitely come to a Safe Place with a sticker in the window.”

“This will definitely work! It can feel very scary ‘out there’.”

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, Health & Care at Portsmouth City Council, said:

“It’s great to see the Safe Places scheme launching across Portsmouth. Some adults may find being out and about in the city a challenge and can feel unsafe or lost, so it’s important that there are places people can go if they need help, or simply a listening ear. By becoming a safe place, you are supporting your local community. I would encourage any Portsmouth businesses or organisations to sign up.”

The scheme is keen to sign up shops, cafes, pubs, and other places which are open to the public in the evening and at weekends.

If your business or organisation is interested in signing up to become a Safe Place, or if you would like a Safe Places card for yourself or a member of your family to carry, please email safeplaces@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.