Campaigners say ‘buzz off’ to hate crime

Roxanne Vines

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TAUNTING or bullying any individual is deplorable.

But, when the name-calling is against someone who is already very vulnerable, it is sickening.

LAUNCH Mayor Marjorie Smallcorn, Bernadette Beresford from Choices Advocacy, and Philip Knight, 33

LAUNCH Mayor Marjorie Smallcorn, Bernadette Beresford from Choices Advocacy, and Philip Knight, 33

Unfortunately people with learning disabilities are often the victims of hate crime and two new schemes are aiming to combat the problem.

People gathered at Waterlooville Community Centre to launch the Safe Place and Buzz Off schemes.

Safe Place is run by Hampshire charity Choices Advocacy and means shops, pubs and other businesses can put up a sticker in their windows.

If a person with a learning disability is in trouble, it means they know there is somewhere they can go to get help and call the police if necessary.

Personal alarms are also being given out so people can call for help if they feel unsafe.

The Safe Place stickers have been put up in around 140 venues in Fareham and Gosport and Choices Advocacy now wants to roll out the scheme to Havant, Waterlooville and Hayling Island.

Hampshire County Council is helping by providing some funding.

Bernadette Beresford, an advocate, said: ‘When they are out in the community, they can feel very vulnerable. This gives them a sense of security.’

Anita Usai, who is opening a community cafe run by people with learning disabilities in Emsworth, is leading the alarm scheme.

She said: ‘The personal alarms are designed to enable young people to feel safer in their communities.’

Local police officers and the Mayor of Havant, Marjorie Smallcorn, attended the event.

Steve Bailey, 37, from Waterlooville, who said he had once been taunted in the street, said: ‘It keeps us safe and makes sure everything is okay.’

For details about the schemes call 01329 232236 or email southeast@choices-advocacy.org.uk.

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