Chelmsford Mencap launches new project thanks to PFCC £15k grant
Posted 16th August 2023
Adults with a learning disability are being protected in their homes, online and in the community, thanks to a unique new project.
City of Chelmsford Mencap provides social clubs and lifelong learning, as well as information and support services to people aged over 18 with a learning disability, their families and carers.
For 49 weeks of the year, it offers a varied curriculum of learning, from functional skills to yoga, at Mencap Centre in Mildmay Road.
Now, for the first time, the charity is launching a project to share vital information to keep service users safe from crime.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) has contributed £15,000 to City of Chelmsford Mencap in the form of a crime and disorder reduction grant from the 2022-2023 Community Safety Development Fund to run the new projects.
As part of the charity’s Outreach Academy, 75 people with a learning disability will attend a series of workshops to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to keep safe at home, online and in the community.
The charity’s advocacy and community support manager will also give person-centred support to a further 30 people who are at high risk or have experienced crime or abuse, such as fake online romance, domestic violence or cuckooing – where the vulnerable are preyed upon by perpetrators looking to take over their property or possessions.
Grace Lidstone, services manager, said: “We were keen to not just focus on responsive work, but to also work on preventative measures. This funding allows us to do preventative education work, rather than having to respond when things have gone wrong.
“We do a certain amount of work around keeping safe online as part of our IT course and when we are teaching independent living skills. This is the first time we have had the funding to bring it all together into a full course.
“Sometimes, the solution can be as simple as arranging for a family member to chat to their loved one about these things or to regularly help them to check their privacy settings on their devices. Those things can make a huge difference. We support families and carers as they are the experts in caring for that person, but they are not necessarily the experts on privacy settings on social media. We can support them to keep their loved one safe.
“Our mission is all about empowering service users to access the community and to make meaningful contributions to the community. This work helps us to ensure they do it in a safe way. It is about the little things, such as having a safety chain on their purse through to key concepts such as feeling confident to say ‘no’.”
The charity will develop resources during the project, so the messages can continue being shared with service users in the future. Key learning will also be embedded into the curriculum through subjects such as expressive arts and cooking.
Of the PFCC funding, Grace said: “This funding is really important for us. We are really looking forward to making a difference.”
PFCC Roger Hirst said: “It is a disgusting thought that criminals would target those with a learning disability for their own personal gain. But, the sad truth is, there are those out there who would take a chance if it presented itself. That is why this work is so vital, to ensure people in all of our communities have the knowledge and support needed to keep them safe in their own homes, online and in the community.”