A BUSINESS owner who started a community project is pleased with how many businesses are getting involved.

The 'Safe Places' project was started by Sharon Eyre, who is the owner of Totton barbershop The Gentlemen's League.

Sharon got the idea when a "boy was being bullied on his way home from school and he wanted to come into the shop to be safe."

She added: "I would like to think that anyone could go into any business if you feel unsafe.

"I am glad with the reaction it has got and that more businesses are getting involved.

Sharon first posted about the 'safe place' idea on Facebook at the end of January and since then it has been shared 900 times.

Hamwic Estate Agents, Water Lane Dental Practice and Broadlands Clubhouse and Cafe are the other businesses in Totton that are involved with the project but has since spread into areas of Southampton, including Bitterne, Sholing and Woolston.

Susan Phillips, principal dentist and owner of Water Lane Dental Practice, said: "The team at Water Lane Dental feel very much a part of the local community we just wanted people to know that we "would always help anyone in distress.

"Whether they felt vulnerable or unwell or simply needed to use the phone, we would be more than happy to assist any one that genuinely needed help in any way whatsoever, as I'm sure any "reasonable person would do."

Councillor David Shields, cabinet member for safer, healthier communities at Southampton City Council, said: "The ‘Safe Places’ scheme is a good example of how communities can contribute to "helping people feel safe and it’s great to see people supporting each other.

"Southampton City Council is an active member of the Safe City Partnership and we are placing our focus on what work we can do in the prevention of violent crime."

A spokesperson from Hampshire Constabulary said:

"We fully support businesses involved in initiatives that help to support and look after local communities."

The safe places project is also in operation in Sheffield, Barnsley, Shropshire and Oxfordshire