Derwen College is a safe haven for all

Derwen College’s Walled Garden Café is proud to be officially recognised as a Safe Place for vulnerable people.

The café, based at the further education college in Gobowen, near Oswestry, is part of an initiative that supports vulnerable people by providing a short-term haven if they feel anxious or threatened.

Safe Places is a scheme in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin that offers safe places to anyone who is feeling scared, anxious or at risk whilst out and about in the community. Any person with a Safe Places ‘Need Help’ card will be looked after, while a staff member contacts a named family member or carer who can pick them up.

Staff and students from Derwen College pointing to the new Safe Places sticker at the Walled Garden cafe.

Students at the further education college for young adults with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have Safe Places cards to use as part of their Independence, Health and Wellbeing sessions. They take the contact cards with them when they are shopping, on trips or at external work placements. The college is also proud to support anyone who feels vulnerable in the community.

Safe Places was started by Mencap in Worcester to provide short-term safe havens for people with learning disabilities. In 2013 Shropshire started a scheme supported by West Mercia Police. When the scheme was rolled out in Shropshire, it was decided that the scheme would be open to everyone as we can all be vulnerable at any time. Shropshire now has over 500 Safe Places.

The locations offered as ‘Safe Places’ have trained staff in place who can give a vulnerable person the support they need.

The scheme is invaluable for parent/carers, especially when young people with disabilities start to gain independence to go out without support. Knowing that a person can recognise the Safe Place logo should they feel frightened, threatened or overwhelmed is a great comfort.

Ruby Hartshorn, Chair of Safe Place Shropshire said: “Safe Place Shropshire has grown faster than we ever envisaged. While Covid-19 has prevented us from signing up the usual number of new Safe Places and carrying out revisits, it has been a pleasure to reconnect with Derwen College via Zoom and to have both the college’s Walled Garden Cafe and Station Cafe at Gobowen Railway station as Safe Places. We look forward to visiting Derwen College to meet the students and staff soon.”

Independence, Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator Tabetha Crinson said that Derwen College was proud to promote itself as a Safe Place.

She said:” As an expert specialist education provider with strong community links, Derwen College is a natural choice as a safe haven for anyone who feels at risk or needs some support.

“We know how important it is for people to feel safe, and make sure that our students are aware of Safe Places when they are in the community for work experience or independence learning.

“We have been members of the Safe Places scheme since 2014. After chatting to the Safe Places team over lockdown, we decided to direct people to our re-opened Walled Garden Café, where a person can sit down, enjoy a drink and relax in the knowledge that they will be looked after.

“We are thrilled to have now received our new stickers to place proudly in the window, and hope that everyone in the community thinks of us as a safe and welcoming place to visit.”

Find out more about Safe Places in Shropshire at https://shropshiredisability.net/safe-shropshire/

Find out more about learning and work experience at Derwen College at http://www.derwen.ac.uk

For information about Derwen College’s commercial areas, including Walled Garden Cafe, Garden Centre & Gift Shop, Print Shop and new The Vintage Advantage charity shop go to www.visitderwen.co.uk

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