Local protection agencies join forces to help those at risk of harm or abuse

All three Ayrshire Adult Protection Committee Chairs and Councils in partnership with NHS Ayrshire & Arran and Police Scotland, have joined together in a campaign to remind people, particularly during lockdown, that we all still need to be united in protecting people from harm and abuse.

With National Adult Support and Protection Day coming up on Saturday 20 February, we know that the longer term impact of lockdown has meant many vulnerable people are becoming increasingly lonely and isolated and may be less visible or have less contact with others.

This may mean they could be more at risk of being harmed by untrustworthy professionals, friends, family or strangers who may try to befriend and exploit them by taking advantage of them. This often happens through social media with the promise of romance or the promise of making money. As a friend, neighbour, family member, parent or professional we all have a responsibility to keep people safe from harm. This means we need everyone to remain vigilant and if you see someone who may not look safe or something you see doesn’t look quite right, a wide range of protection services are available to check it out. Remember the person may not feel able or be able to do this for themselves.

The ‘Seen Something Say Something’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the need to take a closer look at what you might see or hear. Is it a friend helping someone or a freeloader helping themselves? There are support services, including third sector, ready and able to help anyone who needs assistance with banking, shopping, house repairs or connecting with others to reduce loneliness and isolation. If someone doesn’t feel safe at home, help is at hand even during lockdown.

If you are worried about yourself or someone else who is at risk of harm, you should call the police on 999 if it’s an emergency, or otherwise call 101. For a health-related issue, call 111 or you can also speak to your local social work service about your concerns. Callers can remain anonymous if they wish, and help can still be provided. As well as these numbers, any children who are worried about harm or abuse can call Childline on 0800 1111.

Councillor Iain Linton, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing in East Ayrshire, said: “Harm or abuse can happen to anyone and we want people to know that it’s ok to reach out and ask for help. Very often, vulnerable people at risk of harm can seem invisible, and that has sadly become even more the case over the last year.

“Help is still very much available even though we’re living in changed times at the moment and I would encourage anyone who needs our help to get in touch immediately.”

Professor Hazel Borland, Nurse Director, said: “Throughout this pandemic, our health and care staff have continued to provide support to those dealing with harm and abuse. We are committed not only to providing support for these individuals, but raising awareness of the wider support options available.

“During these difficult times, your health and wellbeing is of the utmost importance and you should seek help from someone you can trust if you are concerned about yourself or someone else.”

Detective Chief Inspector Amanda McHarg of Ayrshire Divisions’ Public Protection Unit, said: “Despite the extraordinary support required of Police Scotland during the Covid-19 pandemic, the force has remained fully committed to ensuring that every one of Scotland’s citizens is looked after.

“Across Ayrshire we recognise that home hasn’t necessarily been a safe place for all vulnerable people and, in fact, some may have been exposed to even greater risk of abuse, harm and neglect during this challenging period. As we all continue to adapt to the latest phase of restrictions as set out by the Scottish Government, it is absolutely crucial that our communities know that help is out there and feel reassured that your safety remains a priority for Police Scotland and our partners.

“Ayrshire Division is pleased to support this campaign, which sends out a very important message that a wide range of help and support services continue to be available to anyone dealing with harm or abuse. I urge you to seek support or advice if you are a victim, or if you are concerned about someone you know.”

East Ayrshire contacts:

Social Services (Kilmarnock): 01563 554200

Social Services (Cumnock): 01290 427720

Out of hours number for all Ayrshire councils:

Ayrshire Urgent Care Service: 0800 328 7758 (5pm until 9am, Monday to Friday and throughout the weekend, including public holidays