New ‘Keep Safe’ scheme launched for vulnerable people visiting Saffron Walden town centre

The High Sheriff of Essex, Nicholas Charrington (front, centre) is joined by Insp Mick Couldridge of

The High Sheriff of Essex, Nicholas Charrington (front, centre) is joined by Insp Mick Couldridge of Essex Police, Uttlesford District Council chairman, Cllr Keith Artus, and representatives from the community safety partnership and participating Keep Safe venues at the official launch of the scheme. - Credit: Archant

An innovative scheme has been launched to help vulnerable people feel safe when they are in Saffron Walden town centre.

It received the backing of the High Sheriff of Essex, Nicholas Charrington, who paid a special visit to the town yesterday (Wednesday 21 January) to mark the official launch of ‘Keep Safe’ – a free initiative to assist those over 60, people with learning disabilities or anyone living with mental ill health.

Organised by the Uttlesford Community Safety Partnership (CSP), the scheme has the support of traders and businesses that have put themselves forward to act as Keep Safe venues. The aim is to create a network of safe places for people to go if they need help while in the town.

Mr Charrington said: “Keep Safe is an excellent scheme that will help many people. I hope that more Saffron Walden businesses will soon join in and that we will also see it rolled out to many other towns, so more vulnerable people can feel confident visiting their local town centres.”

People who sign up to Keep Safe are given a key ring and card to write the number of someone they wish to be contacted if they need assistance while out and about in the town – for example, if they lose their mobile phone or wallet, or they are distressed in any way. They can show the card in the venues involved to get instant access to help in non-emergency situations.

These venues will display the Keep Safe sticker in their windows, and staff will allow members the use of a telephone or will make a phone call on their behalf in an emergency.

As part of the scheme, participating venues are offered the opportunity to take part in an ongoing programme of dementia awareness training.

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Waitrose, Goddards Electrical, The Temeraire, Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Craft Days, The Mocha Café, Beales, the Library and the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) are currently all members – and the CSP has said more partners would be welcome.

Mark Starte, duty manager at the TIC, said: “The TIC applauds the introduction of this new scheme and we are very happy to participate in it.

“It will offer reassurance for those people who feel they may need support while in the town centre.”

Nicola Slade, from The Mocha, added: “There was no hesitation at all for us when we were asked to be part of the Keep Safe system. The initiative is a fantastic idea and we are very proud to be involved.”

Saffron Walden has joined a network of towns across the county that are part of ‘Keep Safe Essex’. Others involved include Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Colchester, Maldon and Tendring. Keep Safe members can ask for assistance at participating venues across the county.

It is hoped the scheme can be rolled out to other towns in Uttlesford in the near future.

Cllr Alastair Walters, Uttlesford District Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “Keep Safe is a simple but effective scheme – it is about giving vulnerable people in our community the confidence to visit the town centre and to know there will always be someone to help them if they are in difficulty.”

• Do you think that you or someone you know could benefit from the Saffron Walden Keep Safe scheme? Would you like to know more? If so, contact Uttlesford’s community safety officer Martin Ford by email at or by calling 01799 510510.