Image: Safe House at Fire Station 11, 405 East Rudisill Blvd., 46806
Fort Wayne youths, who are abused, bullied, or those exposed and vulnerable to neglect, can call a 24-hour crisis line (260-466-7077) and seek out one of 57 safe places across the city for an in-person, 20-30 minute listening session with a volunteer through the Safe Place program from the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne.
Safe Place can also provide referral services and an emergency shelter.
“No problem is too small for Safe Place. Any situation that you come across, we can provide assistance,” Cameron Shackelford, Safe Place Coordinator, said.
Safe Place is a national youth outreach and runaway prevention program that began in 1983 at the YMCA of Greater Louisville.
Safe Place locations in Fort Wayne, notated by a yellow and black logo affixed to a building’s side or stickered on a window, can be found at the following locations: all Fort Wayne-based YMCA’s, the FWPD, all Fort Wayne fire stations, Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne (currently under renovation), Bowen Center, Park Center, Urban League, Wellspring, Pizza Hut, Burger Kings, and City Life Center on South Calhoun.
The program’s anytime phone number (260-466-7077) has received roughly 20 phone calls as of mid-June 2018, according to Shackelford. “That’s good thing,” Shackelford said, who also noted that the lack of calls could be a result of a lack of awareness about the program.
Child trafficking is one of the biggest social concerns plaguing runaways. The strip club/truck depot area at North Coliseum is a major hub for human trafficking, according to Shackelford. The program director related the story of a young woman who escaped a trafficking situation by seeking solace through the Safe Place program.
Again, kids youths needing Safe Place assistance should call the program’s 24-hour crisis line at 260-466-7077 to talk to set up an in-person consultation from a Safe Place employee.