A project designed to protect Bradford residents against scams and fraud needs “vital” funding to allow it continue and expand, a senior councillor has warned.
The Scams and Fraud Education for Residents (SAFER) project, financed by the Big Lottery Fund, provides education programmes delivered across Bradford and Leeds by West Yorkshire Trading Standards.
Councillor Val Slater, who is chairman of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said the project had sprung from a pilot initiative in her own Royds ward.
“It has obviously gone down very well throughout the entire district,” she said. “Evidence has shown it is a very important project, particularly for older people from a more trusting generation who can be vulnerable to these type of scams.”
The programme aims to raise public awareness of scams, fraud and doorstep crime in an attempt to give residents the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves from becoming a victim.
The scheme is also complemented by a specialist debt advice service to support people who might have fallen foul of scams or fraud, or those who may need benefits advice.
Since the project began across Bradford and Leeds in November 2012, 3,250 older people have taken part in community-based interactive workshops covering topics such as how to deal with scams, fraud, and doorstep crime, how to stay safe shopping online, and how to prevent cybercrime.
More than 1,200 frontline workers, 400 volunteers and 280 community champions have been trained in becoming the ‘eyes and ears’ of their communities, helping to identify victims and signpost them to local support services.
The debt advice service has raised £451,499 through maximising the benefits people are entitled to, and successfully managed or written off a total of £360,000 of debt.
At present, the SAFER project has funding until this November in both Bradford and Leeds but WYTS is now applying for an extension to work with a further 30,000 individuals in the next two years and to expand the programme into all five local authorities across West Yorkshire.
Coun Slater said: “Staff have been shocked at the extent of some of the scams that are out there, and it is very important that we keep getting this message across.”