It started as a small group of 10 memory clubs in the Cotswolds. Now, ‘Keep Safe’ has a 1000 businesses signed up and its network reaches throughout the county.

They provide a safe haven for more than 6,000 of Gloucestershire’s most vulnerable people who carry the Keep Safe card.

Among them is Cheltenham based St Vincent’s & St George’s Association, a charity working in the county to provide a comprehensive range of care and support services to people with disabilities, complex needs, health conditions and older people.

Speaking on behalf of the association, Kirstie Somerville said,

“The mere existence of the Keep Safe card is very important to all of us at St Vincent’s and St George’s Association. As a local charity that provides care, support & independent living opportunities for people with learning or physical disabilities, we take pride in being a ‘Safe Place’ and encourage all of our service users to sign up to the scheme.

“If a person has never had to use their card it does not mean that it has not been beneficial or did not serve a purpose. For many vulnerable adults in the local community it empowers them to feel safe and promotes independence knowing that they are a part of wider community that will support them should they come into any trouble.”

‘Keep Safe’ was set up in 2010 as a partnership involving a number of bodies including Gloucestershire County Council, the Police and the NHS. In September 2013 The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire Martin Surl commissioned Memory Clubs UK – a community interest company – to develop and expand the scheme.

It is one of more than 100 schemes underwritten by the Commissioner’s Fund and now offers support to more than 6,000 registered members with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, autism and dementia across the county.

Mr. Surl said,

“The Keep Safe card provides support to vulnerable adults, their families and carers. It gives them confidence knowing that their loved one is included in and supported by their local community.

“If we are to make Gloucestershire an even better place, we have to think of how we safeguard the most vulnerable members of society. Ultimately we’re trying to encourage stronger and more inclusive communities where everyone can feel safe and welcome.

“Keep Safe is an outstanding example of how community groups and organisations have embraced new opportunities offered through the police and crime plan.”

Keep Safe card holder Jenny said,

“I haven’t used my card but it makes me feel safe. When I’m out I look out for the signs in shops so I know where to go if I need help one day. ”

Keep Safe Director, Kelly Hennessey-Ford, said,

“Our aim was to build and broaden the scheme and with the help of the Commissioner we continue to do that. Since he pledged his support, we have been able to recruit many of the big chain stores and high street names.

“They are all training their staff in adult awareness and their premises display the Keep Safe logo so that people who are vulnerable know that inside is a place where the people will keep them safe from harm and abuse.”