‘Lisburn in Focus’
Home Security Project
RNIB’s Lisburn in Focusproject is a five-year project (2009 – 2014) pilot project that aims to turn the city of Lisburn into a ‘model of excellence for people with sight loss’. RNIB is working in partnership with a number of other agencies including Lisburn City Council, Lisburn City Centre Management and Guide Dogs.
The project goals are to:
• To make blind and partially sighted people feel secure in their homes • To provide safe and clear public spaces and a mobility guidance system • Ensuring all written information in Lisburn is accessible
• Training services and business in visual awareness • To promote inclusive social and cultural events
• To engage three Trainee Grade Scheme project assistants
This mini evaluation looks specifically at the provision of home security
equipment during the first year of the Lisburn in Focusproject, from November 2009 to December 2010. It will look at the positive impact it has had on those who participated and also any issues or challenges that arose.
Green Hat, a community-based consultancy specialising in diversity and equality, were appointed as external evaluators to the project in Autumn 2009 and have undertaken this mini evaluation as part of the overall methodology.
Home Security Project
This aspect of the project aims to increase security in the home for blind and partially sighted people. The goal is that by the end of the five year project, 100 households with blind and partially sighted people will feel more secure in their own homes. In the first year of this element of the project, 21 people were contacted by RNIB about the project and 17 have subsequently had security improvements made to their homes.
The participants included a number living in rurally isolated areas, as well as those living nearer the city centre, living across 15 different wards. Of these, wards such as Tonagh and Hilden rank amongst some of the most socially deprived in Northern Ireland.
RNIB developed a referral system with Sensory Support at Lagan Valley Hospital and the local Eye Care Liaison Officer (ECLO) to let people know about the home security project. Once participants registered their interest with the RNIB, they were visited then by the local PSNI Crime Prevention Officer, Willie Johnston, who made an assessment on what type of equipment they needed. Recommendations were then sent back to RNIB before work was carried out. In some cases no work was required. An information pack was given to all those who were contacted.
Security equipment installed and work carried out included:
• Intercom system • Window locks
• Upgrade of door locks • Intruder alert buzzers • Dummy alarms
The equipment was installed by Keyhole Surgery Locksmiths, with demonstrations provided on how to use it.
A number of the participants were also given panic alarms by the Crime Prevention Officer to carry with them when they are out and about.
RNIB had already undertaken some internal evaluation work with a small number of participants after their home security equipment was installed. This was mostly to ensure that they were happy with the work that was carried out and that they could use the equipment confidently.
As there were only about 20 participants involved in this part of the project, it was decided that where possible, everybody would be spoken to rather than asking them to complete an evaluation questionnaire or form. This approach allowed respondents to tell us about their experiences in their own words and enabled us to gain a better insight into the project. It was not possible to
conduct face-to-face meetings and so informal interviews were conducted over the phone. Those who had been assessed but had not had any work done were also spoken to.
Achievements & Positive Impacts
Green Hat has identified a significant number of achievements, benefits and positive impacts of the home security project.
The most notable of these was a boost in confidence amongst all participants who had work done to their houses, particularly in relation to their personal safety. Intercom systems mean that they are now able to check who is at the door, giving them increased confidence, perception of greater safety and
control over whom they open the door to. Several people commented that they are now comfortable in answering their door at night, where previously they would not have done so. One lady who had an intercom system installed commented:
“I was always scared about answering door before but now I find it wonderful.” Another lady commented that her young visually impaired daughter had
learned how to use their new intercom system and how this had increased her confidence around answering the door to people.
A number of respondents also stated that they now also felt better about leaving their homes as they now felt their homes were less likely to be broken into. This was due to installation of window locks and upgrade of door locks, making their houses more secure.
In addition to the participants themselves, Green Hat notes a positive impact on friends and family members of people with a visual impairment. Many felt that they were already fairly independent but that a positive impact had been made in reducing worry and stress about them by friends and family members, by knowing that their loved ones were safer. RNIB themselves noted that one lady’s daughter was so impressed that she rang to thank them for the impact the work had made on their lives. This point was reiterated by a number of the participants that Green Hat spoke to, including one lady who said:
“I am absolutely delighted and my friends and sisters who come to visit me are delighted too. 10 out of 10!”
As well as the benefits of the home security equipment itself, many of the
respondents reported other positive aspects of the work. One such aspect was having their homes assessed by the PSNI Crime Prevention Officer.
practical and trustworthy recommendations for the equipment they should have installed. One lady commented that she felt the assessment was important as she would never have thought of having an intercom installed otherwise. There was also a sense of trust which many stated would not have been present had he not been a member of the PSNI. One or two people commented that they already knew him personally beforehand.
Some people said they felt they were able to bring up other policing and safety issues with the PSNI Officer while he was doing the assessment. One lady mentioned that she had discussed protecting other vulnerable people who were rurally isolated, particularly older people. Another mentioned that the Officer had given her advice on safety for her mother and given her an extra panic alarm to give to her.
Positive comments were also made about the RNIB’s work in the project, including staff members Claire Patience and Kathryn McCamley. The speed and ease of the process was praised in particular. One lady stated that since the RNIB had initially contacted her about the home security project, they had continued to keep in touch with her, which had opened up a number of social and support opportunities that she had previously been unaware of. One participant stated:
“It’s been fantastic. I knew nothing about what was available to me before. RNIB were the first organisation to bother contacting me. Now I feel less isolated.”
One lady decided to turn down the recommendation of window locks as she felt the hazards outweighed the benefits. She did not think her visually impaired daughter would be able to find and use the key if she needed to in an
emergency such as a fire. This reflects the flexible nature of the project and that people were able to choose, from the recommendations made, what equipment to have installed.
Another lady mentioned that the Officer had called round when she was not at home. However, he then conducted an in depth conversation with her over the phone about her security needs and she was offered an intercom system for her house.
Challenges, Learning & Development
In completing the evaluation, Green Hat was impressed by the lack of challenges and negative comments by the participants.
Green Hat understands that the PSNI Officer will no longer be involved in the assessment process going forward, and that the role will be undertaken by a civilian crime prevention officer instead. Our research indicates that the Crime Prevention Officer played a crucial role in this project. Change may affect people's confidence and trust and their ability to raise additional policing and security issues. Nonetheless, providing assessments are carried out by a competent professional this should not have a detrimental effect to the project.
In conclusion, Green Hat are very impressed by RNIB’s delivery of the home security part of the Lisburn in Focusproject. There were significant benefits and positive impacts on blind and visually impaired people in the Lisburn area, as well as their friends and families.
All the participants spoken to were happy with the process they had
experienced and the project is on target to ensure its goal of home security improvements to 100 households through Lisburn in Focusby 2014.
Appendix 1 – Wards
Participants in the home security part of Lisburn in Focus lived in the following wards: • Ballinderry • Ballymacash • Ballmacross • Glenavy • Harmony Hill • Hilden • Hillhall • Lagan Valley • Lambeg • Lisnagarvey • Maghaberry • Magheralave • Moira • Tonagh • Wallace Park