Tom Elliot's JoyRide Podcast this week features Paul Blakey MBE - press play to listen:
Paul Blakey MBE is the founder of Halifax Street Angels, the International CNI Network, author, broadcaster, communicator and popular speaker.
Paul and his wife, Jean launched Halifax Street Angels in November 2005 a project which, with the help of an amazing team of volunteers, has made a massive difference in Halifax and over one hundred and thirty towns and cities across the UK and beyond. Street Angels has contributed to a reduction in violent crime and sexual assaults in many of the towns where the scheme operates and has contributed to a national annual reduction in alcohol related violence and A&E admissions. Because of Paul’s contribution to community safety in Calderdale he was awarded a MBE (Most Excellent Member of the British Empire) in the New Years Honours 2010 by Her Majesty the Queen.
Welcome to November! The latest round up of news from CNI Network is at:
Listen to Paul on Trans-World Radio news - click here
A GROUP that has been helping revellers stay safe on nights out in Bolton town centre for almost 10 years is set to close.
Bolton Street Angels has been assisting people in need since 2008 but a lack of volunteers now means that they will patrol the town for the last time in December.
At its peak, the group had a pool of 30 volunteers willing to go out on Friday and Saturday nights and look after people who had too much to drink or had been separated from their friends but this is now down to just 11.
A lack of team leaders has also led to the 'difficult decision' for the group to disband.
Over the past year it has become clear to organisers that the group can no longer sustain a presence in the town every week.
The last night volunteers will patrol will be Friday, December 15, also known as Mad Friday.
Over the past nine years it is estimated Street Angels have removed around 15,000 bottles and glasses from the street to prevent injuries, helped 1,500 people who were vulnerable in some way, given out 800 bottles of water and 700 pairs of flip flops.
Bolton Street Angels was one of the first to be set up in the country and there are now more than 100 local groups around the UK.
Treasurer, Suzane McKinley, said: "Over the past one or two years our number of active volunteers has fallen.
"We came to a point where we weren't able to carry on. It was a difficult decision to make."
The group was originally based in Bradshawgate but had to move to Churchgate and then Bank Street Chapel in 2014.
It is believed that its home not being as central to the town's bars and clubs mean that it has less of a presence and this has led to less people offering to volunteer.
Adrienne Tonge, one of the co-founders of Bolton Street Angels and a former chairman, said: "If you are not there every weekend and people can't rely on you, it is almost worse than not being there at all.
"People are always, generally speaking, appreciative of what we are doing and what we have been doing. A lot of them have been helped themselves or they have had friends who have been helped."
At its peak, four or five people were regularly going out with a team leader to patrol Bolton and keep party goers safe but now this is down to just two most weekends, including a team leader.
It is believed more than 100 people have volunteered with Bolton Street Angels over the years and the organisers wanted to thank them for all their support.
Ms Tonge said: "The door staff, over the years, have been amazingly supportive. They have always been helpful to us.
"There are still people working really hard to make sure people in the town centre are safe.
"We have reduced the number of ambulances required and taken the pressure off door staff. We can help people get home safely and reduce the amount of police needed to help deal with people who have had too much to drink"
She added that the Best Bar None scheme has also been a welcome addition to the town, ensuring bars know best practice to keep people safe.
Any money the group has leftover and its equipment will be donated to local good causes to allow them carry on their work.
A farewell meal will be held for volunteers past and present next year to say goodbye to Street Angels Bolton.
The organisers wanted to thank Bank Street Chapel, Christians Together in Bolton, Pubwatch, Town Centre Chaplaincy, Bolton Methodist Mission, Rotary Club, Soroptimists, Christian Night Time Initiatives, Greater Manchester Police and the Salvation Army for their support.
Partygoers painted the town red with fake - and some real - blood as thousands of booze-fuelled revellers took over the country's bars and clubs to celebrate Hallowe'en.
From scary ghosts, clowns, vampires, and witches to funny sheikhs and Harry Potters - city centres, pubs and night-time hotspots were packed out with pleasure seekers.
Hallowe'en is one of the most popular nights out of the year and thousands of people braved the cold in revealing outfits for the occasion, including women dressed as French maids and nurses covered in fake blood.
It was a nightmare on Broad Street for the paramedics and police officers of Birmingham, who were called to action throughout the night to tend to over-zealous drinkers on the city's infamous strip.
There were equally-frightening scenes in Leeds, where 'street angels' were seen tending to those who had enjoyed a bit too much fun.
What do homemade chocolate brownies, wet wipes and a bucket, prayer, and 4am in the morning have in common? Well, for us at Third Space Ministries these are all features of our nightlife ministries.
The wonder woman who makes it all happen is Lu, our Nightlife Ministries Coordinator (left). As a teenager, Lu loved to go clubbing, drawn by the music and dancing but also often drawn into drinking too much, sometimes not knowing how she got home. When she met Jesus as a student, she heard about mission teams in clubs through a friend, and loved the idea of bringing the love and care of Jesus into the nightlife scene. This passion led her to join a 24-7 Ibiza summer mission team. Each night she and the team were faced with people's deep searching for the answers to life's questions that spilled over into drug and alchohol abuse. And while they offered practical help cleaning up those who had been sick and making sure they got home safely, they would offer a listening ear and prayer, often talking to people long after the sun had risen again over the sea. Returning to the UK, Lu's passion prompted her to set up Club Angel teams doing similar work in London nightclubs.
Whilst in Ibiza, Lu also encountered a darker side of nightlife, meeting women trapped in the sex industry who would visit their prayer spaces, looking for kind hearts and listening ears. Lu's heart broke for them as she listened to their stories. Returning to Ibiza a year later, trained as a massage therapist, Lu and the team sought access into strip clubs, returning each week with homemade chocolate brownies, and as trust grew, so did friendships: the women drawn to their kindness and concern for their welfare. During a massage, one woman opened up to Lu about how eviction from her apartment and desperately needing money had led to her becoming a strip club dancer. Now she didn't know how to leave. In tears she said how all she wanted in life was to make her mother proud and how disappointed she thought her mother would be if she knew.
Lu shares that, 'as I listen to stories like this, as I care for clubbers who have drunk too much or lost their friends and need help getting home, I know that if I hadn't met Jesus, this could be me. It is such a joy to be there, to be able to care practically and to pray with people and tell them how much Jesus loves them. When we are in the clubs, the atmosphere changes and people notice.'
In London, many of the same needs prevail, and through working with Third Space Ministries, Lu has mobilised a team of Club Angel volunteers who are regularly present in two London nightclubs. She is also currently seeking access into strip clubs in Soho. Her vision and passion is that chaplaincy becomes normalised in clubs in London and beyond; that clubbers, staff and dancers will have access to people who are there to care for their welfare, offering practical and pastoral support.
CNI Network is one of the features in the tenth anniversary edition of popular men's magazine Sorted. The magazine is available in WHSmith branches as well as by subscription.
The article - source
Every weekend hundreds of people head into town and city centres. These people are not there to have a drink or spend the night clubbing but rather become Angels to help others have a safe and fun night out.
Street Angels was launched in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 2005. The town had the reputation of being the Wild West of West Yorkshire as between 8 and 12,000 people would visit the town on weekend evenings. Coach trips and visiting football fans, attracted by cheap booze and more pubs and clubs than any other town of in the UK, sadly meant that violence, binge drinking, sexual assaults and under-age drinking were commonplace.
Wandering round the town to see the problems for himself, Paul Blakey remembers, “My wife and I observed many horrendous incidents in the town centre. Police were struggling to control fights; we found trails of blood and vomit; people were passed out in the gutter and there were things happening in alleyways we would rather not have seen. As Christians we thought our town deserved better and we felt called to make a lasting difference. This led to the idea of a café being opened in the town, which was run by the YMCA and Churches Together, as a safe place drop-in.”
Meeting the police a few weeks later, Paul shared the idea and the town centre police sergeant, Dave Apsee, became excited. Several agencies had talked about the problems. TV crews and local newspapers had sensationalised the issues. Paul explained, “If we were prepared to do rather than talk, the police were keen to work with us. Dave then asked if we could launch in two weeks’ time, Friday 25 November 2005, to tie in with the change in the licensing laws. We said yes – Christmas not being that busy a time for Christians!”
Emails were sent to churches, and a front page headline in the local paper said “Drop by if you are drunk” (not quite the expected tone). Paul commented, “On that first Friday, if we are honest, not having a clue what we were doing or what to expect, we were amazed when 50 people turned up to volunteer. [There were] far too many to sit waiting to help people in our small café, so we took flight to the streets and Street Angels was born; safe people who would patrol the town (on day two onwards in fluorescent yellow jackets) and [we would] offer a safe place drop-in on Friday and Saturdays between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.”
It worked. In the first 12 months violent crime in the town centre reduced by 42%. The Home Office carried out an in-depth study as to why Halifax police had lied about how bad the town was– they worked out they hadn’t, and put the amazing change down to the police being willing to work in partnership and people who cared out on the streets of the town centre helping others at a time when it was most needed.
Since then the Angels have spread their wings far and wide. The second Street Angels was set up in Watford in July 2006, with other towns and cities quickly getting on board.
Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network was set up in 2008 to support the replication and growth, and since then they have expanded into work at festivals and sporting events, inside club venues and overseas in Magaluf, Tenerife, the Seychelles and soon, America. The Street Angels in Magaluf have received much media coverage, from Newsnight to Songs of Praise. During the 2017 season the group launched The Gap café to offer a safe place and presence in the daytime.
Club Angels was a response to the needs inside club venues and started in Leeds in 2011. Teams of young Christians put on T-shirts saying “chat, help, listen, care – PS we’re Christians ask us more if you want” and hang out in the queues, the toilets, smoking areas and on the dance floor to see what happens. The Club Angels team are there to offer emotional support, a sick bowl when needed, but also to pray with clubbers and staff and have conversations around life, spirituality and faith.
The work of Festival Angels was set up as a response by local churches to Leeds Festival. With 85,000 festival-goers in and around Bramham Park, a lady from the Methodist church believed that the church needed to be at the festival. Through conversation with organisers Festival Republic, they were offered a marquee to run a café. In the first year a few people from the local church ran a Prayer Café and in the second year extended the opening hours. By year three Festival Republic were so impressed with the Prayer Café that they asked if they could extend the hours so that it was open all the times the festival was running, and also if they could take over the running of the Lost Property tent and have detached teams that patrolled the festival site.
Not ones to turn down a challenge the team said yes, rebranded as Festival Angels and began recruiting volunteers from across the region. Leeds Festival Angels now attracts around 170 volunteers every August Bank Holiday weekend. The team is ready to deal with absolutely anything. Sunny weather means suntan lotion and bottles of water are in high demand, whereas torrential rain means the Prayer Café becomes a safe and welcome refuge from tents that are three-quarters submerged in mud. The Prayer Café sells thousands of mugs at £5 each with unlimited free refills of tea and coffee for the duration of the festival. The Lost Property team are on hand to reunite phones, wallets, cash, bank cards, passports, tent poles and car keys with the rightful owners. The most amount of cash in a wallet handed in – £650. The response from the owner when he discovered all the contents in place was something along the lines of “goodness me”. The work of Festival Angels is now expanding to other festivals, with Boardmasters in Cornwall in 2017 and other festivals exploring the idea.
Paul summarised, “The heart of our work is simply to love the person in front of you. Be it offering flip-flops to young ladies whose high heels prove to be too painful, to first aid, bottles of water, offering directions or giving out lollipops (that help to stop fights – yes, seriously). At festivals, including Boardmasters and Leeds, you will find the teams helping put up tents, running prayer cafés, heading up the Lost Property or handing out drinks to the security team. Our banners at the festivals proclaim, with a John Lennon-esque Jesus, that Jesus Loves Festivals – and we believe he does and that he would be there crowd-surfing the main stage and undercutting the cost of food from the burger vans. Inside clubs you will find our Club Angels with T-shirts saying ‘chat, help, listen, care’ and the volunteers are doing just that and creating better nights out for clubbers as a result.”
Why not get involved in a project near you? For more details see cninetwork.org or follow us on social media – facebook.com/cninetwork and twitter.com/cninet
Twenty four charities are set to benefit from the Festival Angels left luggage at Leeds Festival.
Charities, chosen by Festival Angel volunteers, are set to receive £220 each from the £5000 raised through left luggage at this years Festival in Bramham Park, Leeds.
Coordinator of Leeds Festival Angels, Reverend Andy Nicholson, says, "It is fantastic that the left luggage facility has raised £5000 which we are then able to distribute to worthy causes across the region. The Festival Angel volunteers have nominated the charities chosen and many of them have a personal connection with the charity."
The charities that will benefit are:
Alzheimer's Society - alzheimers.org.uk
Boro Angels - boroangels.co.uk
Bradford NightStop - bradfordnightstop.org.uk
Christians Against Poverty - capuk.org
Christians in Calderdale Schools - cicscalderdale.org.uk
CNI (Christian Nightlife Initiatives) Network - cninetwork.org
Christians Together Calderdale - christianstogether.org.uk
Equine Pathways - equinepathways.co.uk
Family Fund - familyfund.org.uk
Imperial Crusaders Band, Sowerby Bridge
In2Out - In2Out.org.uk
Leeds Samaritans - samaritans.org/branches/samaritans-leeds
Leeds Street Angels - leedsstreetangels.org.uk
Martin House - martinhouse.org.uk
Mercy UK - mercyuk.org
Parents Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia - Sheffield Children's Hospital - pactfriends.co.uk
Rainbow Junk-tion - rainbowjunktion.org.uk
St Lukes CARES / Shine Project - theshineproject.org.uk
Simon On The Streets - simononthestreets.co.uk
Special Effect - specialeffect.org.uk
The Crypt, Leeds - stgeorgescrypt.org.uk
The Meeting Point Cafe - meetingpointcafe.org.uk
The Piece Hall Trust, Halifax - thepiecehall.co.uk
Youth for Christ Calderdale - yfccalderdale.org.uk
Festival Angels was established in 2011. This year 160 volunteers ran the Lost Property and Left Luggage tent, a Prayer Cafe and detached teams who patrolled across the festival site.
For more information on the work of Festival Angels and to apply as a volunteer in 2018 visit leedsfestivalangels.org.
-- ends --
Pictures (please credit Magda Szymanska)
top: Festival Angels at work in the Lost Property / Left Luggage tent
bottom: Brian 'Head' Welch, lead guitarist in the band Korn, speaking in the Prayer Cafe
Crime-fighting businesses were honoured for the way they work with police and others to make Leeds a safer place. More than 250 people, including representatives from West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council, gathered at the Queens Hotel on Monday night for the 2017 Business Against Crime in Leeds (BACIL) Awards.
The event not only celebrated the work of the 350 businesses in the BACIL network, but also raised £2,000 for St Vincent’s Support Centre. Funds raised will aid the charity’s efforts to provide valued support for vulnerable people in and around the city.
Rachael McGlynn, of BACIL, said: “We would like to say a huge ‘congratulations’ to all the winners and runners up. They do a truly fantastic job of working together to help BACIL and the police keep the city of Leeds a safe place for people to work, shop and have fun. “I would also like to add how delighted we are to raise such a fantastic sum of money for the St Vincent’s Support Centre. They are a fantastic charity that does so much great work in and around Leeds to help people escape the poverty trap.”
Awards were presented in eight categories, with a panel of judges choosing the winners based on their work to keep the city sfe and tackle crime. This year’s judges were LeedsBID chief executive Andrew Cooper, Leeds district licensing officer Cath Arkle, Inspector Andrew Berriman and John Ebo, the council’s head of city centre management.
The winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Leeds was Katie Waters, of Street Angels! Well done Katie!!! (pictured below centre)
TRIBUTES have been paid to one of Ryedale’s unsung heroes.
Ruth Hardy, died on Saturday, September 30, aged 51, following a battle with cancer.
Chris Newsam, one of Ruth’s friends, said: “Many in Malton and Norton knew Ruth in her many and various roles and interests.
“Ruth had a passion for helping people drawn from her own experience and her deep faith and convictions.
“Local people may well have known Ruth through her work for Mencap, Next Steps or as part of the Street Angels, or in her interest in Karate where she was working towards attaining Black Belt level two.”
Chris said Ruth ran creative writing classes, and also had work published. She also attended various churches, including the Elim Church, St Michael’s Church and the Quakers.
“Ruth didn’t have an easy life and struggled with her own mental health issues along with other illnesses, but despite these she worked tirelessly seeking to make life better for others. Her courage, sense of humour and determination during her recent struggle with a recurrence of cancer has inspired those who knew her.
“My wife Janice and I came to know Ruth through Malton Quaker Meeting over the past few years.
“We were encouraged by her deep and insightful ministry among us and her willingness to humbly embrace any tasks the meeting needed. We have been enriched by knowing her and will greatly miss her.”
PC Jane Jones, of Malton Police, said: “Ruth was a respected part of our Street Angels, she put all her efforts into running it.
“She had just recently left us as she had taken too much on. Ruth would do anything for her community and she will be sadly missed.
A committal service will take place at Octon Cremetorium on Friday, October 20, at noon, followed by a memorial meeting to remember the “Grace of God in the Life of Ruth Hardy” at the Friends (Quaker) Meeting House in Greengate, Malton, at 2.30pm.
For more information about the funeral arrangements, phone Chris Newsam, on 01653 693913.
Please pass these websites to volunteers, friends, local churches and family! We want as many people as possible to enjoy this great event!
PDF poster (image file above)
More details on the event are at:
The shocking death of a man attacked outside McDonald’s in the early hours of last Sunday does not reflect the reality of Huddersfield’s nightlife.
That’s the view of the chairman of a group which has patrolled the town centre for the last 10 years
Ian Atkinson, chairman of Huddersfield’s Street Angels, a team of Christian volunteers who provide assistance to revellers who’ve had too much to drink, spoke out on Saturday night a week on from the attack on family man Graham Bell.
Mr Bell, 37, of Dalton, was subjected to what police described as a “violent assault” in Kirkgate at 12.40am. He suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital on Wednesday.
Two boys, aged 15 and 16, were arrested on suspicion of assault and later released on bail.
Mr Atkinson spoke to the Examiner as he patrolled the town centre with fellow member Ann Talboys and his wife Karen.
He said: “We are out in Huddersfield town centre almost every weekend but unfortunately we weren’t able to get a team out last weekend. What happened last weekend was a one-off and hopefully it will be a very long time before anything like that ever happens again.”
Asked whether he thought McDonald’s had been unfairly stigmatised following the incident and a number of reported brawls both inside and outside the restaurant in recent months he said: “It’s unfortunate that McDonald’s is open all the time. If it was going to close somewhere else would take over.”
Mrs Atkinson, who has patrolled the streets for seven years, added: “It’s not a true reflection of what we see week in and week out on a Saturday night. People are just generally having a good time.”
Ms Talboys said violence was not the norm and added: “It’s not my experience of what happens on a Saturday night. “We were very surprised at the age of the two boys arrested. We don’t normally see that age group in the town centre at all. Everyone out is 18-years-old-plus.”
Source - Paul heard Letitia speak at Movement Day in London - he was challenged as to how CNI Network and its local projects can best love and serve those working within lap-dancing bars and brothels. We have some fantastic work already going on such as gifts at Christmas, chaplaincy, free massages and even an Alpha Course at 4am on a Sunday morning. But there is always more we can do - and the challenge is how do we become intentional about reaching out? Some of the ladies will be trafficked here. Some will be struggling financially. Some with addictions, some with tragic histories, some who can't find employment anywhere else. How can we show and demonstrate that these ladies are loved and have a plan and purpose in life? How can we share with them of God who loves them, created them and thinks the world of them? How can we as teams of volunteers show compassion, understanding and have a listening ear?
These city women took a Bible into their local brothel. What happened next?
When the authorities in this city in Australia decided to allow a brothel, the Christians came out in protest. They organised petitions, marches, articles in local newspapers. Nothing worked. The brothel opened on schedule.
And then miracles began to happen.
Because instead of fighting it, the Christian women of Toowoomba began going into the brothel to bring them the message of God's love.
Before long, these women began leaving prostitution and starting new lives of their own accord – starting with the brothel manager, Nola.
The remarkable story of the change effected by the City Women of Toowoomba was told by Letitia Shelton at Movement Day in London, a gathering of Christian leaders from towns and cities throughout the UK, aimed at transformation though united action across denominational divisions.
Letitia said the aim of the campaign was to see their city free of porn.
The women's ministry goes into brothels and strip clubs.
She said: 'A few years ago our city decided it would be a good thing if our city had a brothel. Christians came together, we did petitions and a protest, but all to no avail. Still they opened a brothel.'
So the next thing they decided was to send in a team.
'We found a local woman, Ros, who had a heart for prostitutes. She started going into the brothel, building relationships, before it even opened. Then a woman called Jess took over. She built relationships to the point that last year, she bought a Bible for the brothel.
'She gave them the Bible. The girls started reading it. The manager, Nola, started asking questions. We could see this growing hunger in her life.'
In March this year, Letitia did a city breakfast and instead of inviting the local pastor's wife to speak, decided to invite Nola, the brothel manager. 'She came straight to breakfast in her work clothes. She said before you women draw down fire from heaven on me, I want to share my life with you.'
She spoke of her incredibly deprived background, her extraordinary struggle to survive, and how she had to go into prostitution just to find a way to earn a living.'
Letitia said: 'Something powerful happened in that room that morning. We said to Nola, you belong to us. Jesus wants you.
'She ended up giving her life to Jesus a couple of months after that. Then she got fired from the brothel – not for being a Christian, of another reason.'
A local Christian radio offered to employ her and she now works on the front desk. This year we've seen six women come out of the brothel,' said Letitia. For every woman that comes out, Letitia and her organisation try and raise $3,500 to help them transition into another job and to survive.