Council leader welcomes safe space in Reading opening

Looking after our residents is always of paramount concern to us, and last month we opened an important new facility for you in the town centre, somewhere you can get assistance if you need help or support.

Along with partners, the Mayor officially opened Reading Safe Space at St Mary’s Church House on Chain Street, next to Bill’s.

It will allow residents and visitors to access medical assistance and on the spot help on Friday and Saturday nights as the new permanent home of First Stop and Reading’s Street Pastors, both of whom are key partners in helping keep people safe on the streets of Reading.

First Stop provides first aid, supported by paramedics from the South Central Ambulance Service, for those enjoying the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights. By giving those who need it immediate access to medical help through on the spot assessment and treatment, we can get you looked after quicker and take the pressure off Royal Berkshire Hospital’s busy accident and emergency department.

Reading’s Street Pastors are a team of volunteers who patrol the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights to care for, listen to and help people who are out for the evening – do look out for them when you’re in the town.

Reading Safe Space is about far more than just medical assistance. Anyone who is stressed, feeling lonely, have lost their phone, and any other instances where people just want someone to talk to and some friendly advice, can visit.

We’re also looking at how the benefits of the new Safe Space can be maximised, which will include delivering a range of community safety related services including crime prevention advice and training, and resources and support for victims of crime.

The new facility has been made possible by working with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and other partners and funded by some of the £429,000 Safer Streets funding received from the Home Office last year to reduce crime and improve safety in the town centre.

It’s important to note that the Safe Space isn’t just somewhere to go if you’ve hurt yourself or are feeling ill – it’s also there as a place of refuge and support if you are feeling vulnerable, threatened, or unsafe.

These are all feelings we never want anyone to experience when they visit our town centre, and that’s why we’ve also introducing a number of other measures using Safer Streets funding to improve safety and security. These include upgrading and increasing our CCTV network across Reading, improving lighting in dimly lit areas, and creating a sense of safety and wellbeing in town centre spaces by making them cleaner and brighter.

We’re working alongside night-time venues to provide clear and accessible information about Reading’s range of safety services, including First Stop, personal safety tools, anti-spiking devices and the My Way app which helps users to plan safe routes home from town centre and uses sensors to provide live data which then shows which streets are busier and which are better lit at night.

Along with the University of Reading, Reading University Students’ Union, and Reading College we’ve also created a Safer Students partnership to improve safety for students in Reading. This includes a particular focus on the town centre at night-time, especially for women and girls, and has engaged with students for their views on safety and creating tailored training for students on informed consent and bystander awareness.

We’re continually working to look after you and make your experience in Reading as safe as possible, so come and enjoy our vibrant town centre!

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre