Angels will be making an appearance on streets and in night-clubs across the country this Christmas.
Not the dressed in white, halo and wing type you see on Christmas cards and in Nativity plays but more like the 'here to help you' type!
Street Angels first landed on the streets of Halifax in West Yorkshire in November 2005. With a vision to do something within the weekend of the night-time town centre, that had gained a Wild West of West Yorkshire reputation, a few local Christians set out to open a safe place cafe on Friday and Saturday's between 9pm and 3am. Amazingly 50 people also turned up to help and the group took flight out of the cafe into the town centre to help and connect with those out and about.
The scheme worked - hundreds of people received help, violent crime was reduced by 42% in the first 12 months and the Street Angels became a massive part of the answer in changing the culture of Halifax town centre.
Other towns started to look at Street Angels for themselves and so, in 2008, Christian Nightlife Initiatives (CNI) Network was launched to support and resource anything the church was doing to reach out to the night-time economy. We discovered a group in Belfast who had put a table out serving hot drinks since 1995 and a group in Dundee patrolling the centre since 2000.
CNI Network linked projects now operate in 120 towns across the UK and in Spain. Each week we are out with flip-flops, lollipops and water offering safe people and safe places to the tens of thousands of people who enjoy a night out. We are there for anyone - those wanting a chat, the vulnerable (be it elderly people leaving a theatre to a young person waiting for the last bus home), the homeless, those who work in town centres at night as well as the clubbers. These angelic teams are making the difference and have changed a culture - recent reports show that over the last decade alcohol related violence and A&E admissions have reduced year on year.
So as you sing "Angels from the realms of glory" this Christmas spare a thought and a prayer for those teams of Angels on the streets, in the night-clubs and in the parks who are modern-day shepherds watching over the flocks by night!
For more information and to download our eBook visit www.cninetwork.org.uk