A refuge is being offered to young bullying victims after a local shop owner witnessed an “upsetting” incident.
Dionne Bradbury, who owns Glamorous Congleton with Tracy Tiller, said that they decided to create a safe haven for anyone in distress after they spotted a child being bullied outside their boutique on Bridge Street last week.
Mrs Bradbury said: “We have lots of kids who come past after school has finished, but last week we witnessed a child being bullied,” she said. “We stood outside to try to stop it from happening and the children moved on, but we later found out that it had continued elsewhere. I was very upset, because I have a teenager. I wanted to prevent it from happening in the future.”
Since the incident, she has rolled out the Safe Place scheme, which means the shop can be used by children being bullied or threatened on the town centre streets, who can wait there for an adult to pick them up.
She explained: “If a kid feels unsafe walking home or if a girl feels as if she was being followed by a man, we want to offer our sitting room for them to come and wait in while they get a parent or guardian to come and pick them up.
“Even if it’s something as simple as losing your bus pass and needing somewhere to wait for a lift, I just wanted to make sure that vulnerable children could get home safely.”
With the help of her daughter, Mrs Bradbury decided to promote the new scheme online and it quickly attracted attention online and interest from neighbouring towns and schools.
The team was this week awaiting a delivery of 50 window stickers, designed by Mrs Bradbury’s husband, that retailers will be able to collect from Glamorous Congleton and place in their windows to offer their premises as a refuge.
Requests from other towns have already been made for the stickers and there has also been some interest from schools, with assemblies planned to introduce the scheme to students.
Mrs Bradbury added: “The idea really caught on and the whole community got involved, which was great because I feel like that’s what towns like Congleton really need.
“We didn’t expect anything to happen as a result of it, but the fact that everyone responded is brilliant because it shows that the community feeling is not dead. We have just got to start looking after each other.”