Independence… our minds boggle with scary what ifs when that
word comes to mind, especially so for those we care for with
Travel training will give them the skills to catch a bus and
walk to their destination but what if the bus doesn't come...what
if they lose their bus money…
They may learn how to shop in town but what if they lose their
bag, phone or bus pass (or all three!)…what if they get lost…
What if someone is horrible to them or takes the mickey...
So I have a choice; do I protect her from these what ifs or
allow her the same freedoms I have allowed my other children?
On her first bus trip and trip round town she was followed by
me, darting behind people and hiding in shop doorways so she
couldn't see me! The next time I sat in a coffee shop, nervously
waiting for the phone to ring or a desperate text. Heidi's phone is
full of numbers of friends that she can call if she has a problem;
I explained her situation to each of them and they were all happy
to help her.
'Stranger danger' is regularly reinforced and thankfully, having
two brothers, Heidi knows exactly how to defend herself from a
would-be attacker! As Heidi now attends college in town my antics
are no longer possible, so I decided to visit two cafes and shops
with Heidi to give her somewhere safe to go if she needed help. All
of them were delighted to help and she is now a frequent and loud
visitor to their premises - not because she needs help but to eat
Heidi has also made her presence felt at other shops (the
Christian bookshop "enjoys" her singing most days and Clinton Cards
love her visiting them). I pop in occasionally just to check that
she is being ok.
I was delighted when Chloe explained to me about the Safe Places
project that she was starting, with Heidi and others with
Places is a more formal version of what I have done for Heidi;
shops/restaurants will be asked if they are willing to help people
with learning disabilities if they have a problem while in town. If
they agree, they will display a sticker in their window and
hopefully will help people with learning disabilities if the need
People with learning disabilities will be given cards displaying
the Safe Places
logo which they can show to the member of staff who is helping
them. The cards have questions and pictures to help with any
I know it is scary allowing those we care for to spread their
wings, but we must do it for their own good and at their own
individual pace. We will not be around for ever. They need to
develop their skills while we are still around so that they can be
as independent as possible and have the freedom that they want. And
remember, you are usually only a phone call away.
For more information about Safe Places, contact Chloe Ingold on
024 7663 1040 ext 106 or find our more here.
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