A FREE scheme has been launched to protect vulnerable people when they go out and about in Runcorn and Widnes town centres.

Shopkeepers have teamed up with Halton Speak Out, a self advocacy group, to offer refuge.

People with a learning or physical disability, Alzheimer’s, dementia, or anyone aged over 60 can sign up for the ‘Safe in town’ scheme.

They will be given a card to carry with them at all times, containing the telephone number of their carer or relative who can be contacted in an emergency.

Shops in the scheme will display a logo in their windows so if anyone feels unwell or threatened, they can call in and will be kept safe until someone comes to collect them.

Almost 30 traders have joined and 266 people have signed up.

It follows a successful six-month trial in Widnes last year.

Project manager Yvonne Smallman, aged 51, from Norton Cross, said: “It makes people feel a lot safer.

“One man was worried about his wife who had just come out of hospital. She wanted to go out on her own. He said he felt reasssured knowing she was carrying this card.”

The project has created a job for co-worker Jason Pilkington, aged 18, from Higher Runcorn, who has learning disabilities.

The scheme is supported by Halton Council and funded by Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and Cheshire’s Police Crime Commissioner.

Neighbourhood shops across Halton are also invited to join.

Anyone wishing wish to sign up can call Yvonne on 01928 588526.