The project began in Leeds in 2011 as local Christians sought to find new ways of engaging in the city's nightlife. Beth Tash, who is employed by the church of England as the Pioneer Minister for the Night Time Economy, and also co-ordinates the Street Angels project in the city centre, wanted to explore what it might look like for Christians to be serving people inside the clubs, as well as on the streets. After building relationships across the city, mainly through its PubWatch scheme, Beth was able to put the idea forward, and one pioneering manager let the team have a go!
Two years on, and the Club Angels are now an integral part of the staff team of two of the city's busiest nightclubs. The clubs regularly report lower levels of violence and aggression, as well as a better atmosphere when the teams are there. The teams put this all down to the power of prayer!
The Club Angels teams start each night with prayer, worship and usually cake. They ask God to bless the club, to give them opportunities to show and share His love, and to highlight to them individuals where they could make an impact. The team then engage with people waiting to get into the club, and have incredible conversations with people has they hang around in the toilets, the smoking areas and with the staff.
As they night goes on the teams are able to support staff by caring for those who may have become unwell, or who may be upset, vulnerable and need a friendly face and a helping hand. Often the Club Angels are found to be praying for people and having discussions about life, the world, the universe and everything else in between!
Because of the project's success in Leeds, the initiative is beginning to spread to other towns and cities across the UK. The second project in Croydon got off to a fantastic start in April 2013 and others are set to launch soon.
Beth Tash, founder of Club Angels, comments, "Club Angels is such a simple concept - it's just a bunch of Christians who believe that there is a God who wants to draw all people into His love. They turn up in clubs with the sole aim of loving the person in front of them with the love that God gives. We see all the time that this love and care makes such a difference in the lives of individuals, and we're just starting to see glimmers of how God is using his people to impact and transform the culture's of the city."
Lucy Hardy, coordinator of Croydon Club Angels, comments, "It has been a privilege to go into one of Croydon's biggest night clubs every other week for the last six months. Our teams are simply serving, loving, being a helping hand and a listening ear. On the nights when we are not there the staff tell us that we are really missed and that when we are there our help is really valued and appreciated. It's just about being there to share God's love - to be available & to see how He wants to use us! Every night is unique and exciting."
Paul Blakey MBE, founder of Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network, says, "This is a fantastic opportunity to share Christ's love and hope to the thousands of people who go clubbing every week. To hear that there is a noticeable difference with less aggression and violence on the weeks Club Angels operate demonstrates that Christianity can and does bring change."
To find out more visit www.clubangels.org.uk
Images: Croydon Club Angels get ready for a night in a local nightclub