YOUNGSTERS with learning disabilities in Kidderminster have been supported to design and deliver a public safety scheme that will give them greater access to community facilities and services.

The scheme is part of learning disability charity Mencap's new project Changemakers, which will help young people with a learning disability to raise their self-esteem and develop essential work and life skills.

The youngsters aged between 17 and 24 are members of charity Our Way Self Advocacy Group and have set-up Safe Places in and around Kidderminster in partnership with local businesses and with the support of West Mercia Police.

Safe Places allows vulnerable people who feel threatened while out in the community to get support from local shops and community facilities, which have signed up to be part of the initiative.

John Lawley, 24, a young ambassador for Mencap, said: "When we talked about what we wanted to do for the Changemakers project we recognised that feeling safe was important to us all when we are out in the community."

Inspector Pete Funnell, of West Mercia Police, said he “fully” supported the initiative.

“We hope, in partnership with Mencap, to expand the scheme across the force area so that there are a network of "Safe Places" identified and easily recognised providing a secure safe place should a person with a learning disability need one,” he added.

The scheme will be officially launched on Friday, January 25 at 11am at the Our Way Self Advocacy, in Church Road Kidderminster.

Fran Dancyger, Mencap regional partnership officer, said: "This volunteering opportunity will enable young people with a learning disability to become more active members of the community, in turn helping them to gain the respect of their peers, be empowered to make choices in their own lives and benefit from living in a community that better understands the issues that people with a learning disability face every single day.”