Local protection agencies join forces to help those at risk of harm or abuse
All three Ayrshire councils in partnership with NHS Ayrshire & Arran and Police Scotland, have joined together in a campaign to remind people that a wide range of help and support services continue to be available to anyone dealing with harm or abuse.
The 'Here to Help' campaign aims to raise awareness of the fact that support services, including third sector, are ready and able to help anyone who is experiencing harm or abuse, even during the current pandemic.
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 few months.
"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 Paul Martin, Chair of the South Ayrshire Adult and Child Protection Committees, said: "So much has changed over the last few months, but something that will never change is our commitment to tackle abuse in all its forms.
"It's so important that people don't suffer in silence. Help is available, even if it's just to make that initial contact.
"We all need to do our bit to help keep the vulnerable safe, so be vigilant and please don't assume that someone else has already reported an incident of harm or abuse."
Councillor Robert Foster, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care in North Ayrshire, said: "While the stay at home message has been crucial throughout the pandemic in terms of public health, for some adults and children in North Ayrshire this increased isolation has unfortunately placed them in a situation where they are more at risk from harm than ever.
"Harm comes in many forms, from physical and mental abuse, to neglect or self-neglect, self-harm or vulnerability to fraud, and it is so important that we look out for signs of these in our friends, family and neighbours and report any concerns we may have. It's always better to say something than to do nothing.
"We'd like to remind everyone that our adult and child protection services are operating as normal during the pandemic and would urge anyone who is worried about someone's wellbeing to please get in touch with either ourselves or the police so that we can help them to get the support that they need."
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 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."