CNI Network was formed to help the Street, Festival and Club Angel volunteers communicate more effectively and to also further this work throughout the UK. This was the plan when it was created in 2008 by Paul Blakey MBE. He had already seen success through the expansion of his first group, Street Angels, which was established in Halifax in 2005. After a 42% reduction in the crime during the night time economy town centre club culture, other towns quickly formed their own groups under Paul’s guidance. So, CNI Network was created as a central point of contact for new groups and to help the existing groups support each other, make friends, share faith, share skills and best practice. Now CNI Network has about 135 projects stretching from the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Australia and Seychelles with other places interested in the scheme.
If you are an eagle eyed reader you might have noticed I said ‘share faith’. This is because the initial drive for this kind of mission was to not only make the town a safer place but also to encourage Christians to share their faith through practical action. So, many of our volunteers are Christian however we encourage those with different and no faiths to join in as well. The volunteers only share their faith with the people they are helping if it is the client who asks the questions. The primary focus of the teams are to observe, pray over the town and intervene when necessary to provide practical help such as directions, first aid, or if something more serious has happened, to help that person get the support they need such as victim support.
While Street Angels is actioned on the streets; Club Angels provide a listening service inside the nightclubs. The listening service has proved invaluable to those people trying to forget about their problems by drinking the night away. There have been many occasions when someone has started speaking to the volunteers and through their support decided not to abuse their bodies with over consumption of alcohol but instead found the courage to seek the help they need. The problems encountered vary from debt management to grief and abusive relationships to addiction. Everyone encountered receives some form of help and if requested they are prayed for as well.
If you haven’t already guessed, Festival Angels work during the festival season patrolling the camping areas, providing first aid, giving directions, ensuring lost children and objects are returned and providing refreshments. Sometimes this environment allows busy people time to think about their lives and we have had some interesting philosophical discussions. Again, part of the service is to provide a listening ear and help people come to their own decisions about some of their life choices. It’s mostly good fun, especially when the sun comes out to play.
If you are inspired to volunteer, fundraise, donate, become a trustee or would like some support, learning resources or would like more general information then visit: www.cninetwork.org.