Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding - Emerging evidence
Keeping Safe workshops in Derbyshire for and by people with a learning disability
The Keeping Safe project in Derbyshire involves people with learning disabilities delivering workshops on harassment, hate crime and safeguarding to others with a learning disability. Neil Abdy, project manager for Keeping Safe, explains more about it.
Keeping Safe began in September 2009. It's a joint project between MacIntyre (a learning disability charity) and the Safer Derbyshire partnership, led by Derbyshire County Council. From the start it has involved people with learning disabilities in developing and delivering the project.
The aim of Keeping Safe is to make information available on bullying, harassment, hate crime and safeguarding to every person with a learning disability across Derbyshire. The aim is that by spreading knowledge and promoting skills, more people with a learning disability will be able to prevent or challenge situations of poor treatment and abuse.
The main way it does this is by running one-day workshops, delivered by two people with a learning disability (known as project champions – there are 12 of them) and the Keeping Safe project manager, Neil Abdy. Participants learn to recognise and challenge any situation where they are being treated unfairly, from minor interactions to major issues of hate crime and abuse. The facilitators use role plays and powerful visual images to bring alive a range of difficult situations. They talk about how celebrities – for example, Lewis Hamilton, or even the Pope – experience harassment and hate crime, to show that anyone can experience this type of problem. They ask participants to think through who they could turn to for help if they need it.
Workshops are usually run on 'neutral' territory – say a local church hall – and the invitation is extended to anyone with a learning disability who wants to come along. Typically 15–20 people attend. During 2010, the project ran 12 workshops, and it continually improved the programme based on feedback.
The team also offers mini or 'taster' 20-minute sessions to promote the workshops to potential attendees, for example at a day facility. In 2010, the project delivered 20 of these mini workshops. One involves taking people on a local walk and looking at ways of keeping safe along the way, for example how to use a cash machine and how to carry a bag safely. Another one – on bogus callers – begins with a role play that draws on audience involvement and then uses catchy songs to reinforce the message of 'Stop – Chain – Check' principles for answering the door.
The Keeping Safe project is funded by the multi-agency partnership, Safer Derbyshire, and sits under the umbrella of a wider Reps on Board project, a learning and development project with people with learning disabilities funded by MacIntyre and Derbyshire County Council. The Keeping Safe project manager is part-time and the champions are paid for their co-facilitation work. The project is looking into funding options beyond September 2011, when the current funding ceases.
What's worked wellOpen
Many participants – and the champions in particular – have developed skills and confidence through being involved in the project.
The project has worked successfully with various partner organisations. The Library Service in Derbyshire has promoted the issues of hate crime and harassment. As a result of Keeping Safe, the Derbyshire Constabulary now attend the Learning Disability Partnership Board meetings. And a local football club has agreed to include information about stamping out hate crime in its match programmes.
Most participants and champions require 'supporters' to enable them to participate fully. The project funding does not cover this cost so service providers have to find creative ways to provide that support. In some cases this has meant that people have been unable to come to the workshops, and three champions are currently unable to undertake the role for the same reason.
Getting information out to people who do not use services – people either living independently or with family carers – and encouraging their participation has been difficult. They rarely come forward to attend.
Partnership working has been essential to the success of the project. However, it can be a challenge to encourage real partnership working and co-operation between agencies when there are different priorities and pressures.
Advice for othersOpen
Interactive training methods work best: role plays are a crucial part of the workshops.
Start by considering more minor issues and then work up to the serious issues, and draw on the media for examples.
The Keeping Safe project has lots of new work in the pipeline: a major event on promoting safety involving as many relevant agencies as possible, a new two-hour workshop based on a mock-court situation to help people with a learning disability learn about court processes, and work to develop mediation skills among younger people to enable them to act as peer mediators.