NINE leisure centres across Oxfordshire have now agreed to offer help to people feeling confused, anxious, abused or harassed.

The council-owned facilities have all signed up to a public scheme called Safe Places.

The idea is that if members of public are worried someone is following them, or feel they are being harassed, they can go and ask staff at the leisure centres for their assistance.

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During the summer season, the outdoor pools in Wallingford and Abingdon will also be designated Safe Places with trained staff on hand during opening hours.

The nine leisure centres are managed by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), under its Better brand on behalf of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils.

Megan Horwood, community sports manager at GLL said: “Our centres are community hubs, providing a safe and welcoming environment for local residents.

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"We are delighted to be able to highlight this important role, by signing up to the Safe Places scheme.

"Leisure centre staff are currently receiving training which will equip them to offer enhanced support to those at risk."

The scheme is supported by Age UK Oxfordshire and the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.