A CHRISTIAN group which aims to make Beeston a safer place has armed itself with an unlikely weapon – lollipops.
Hope Nottingham set up the Beeston Street Angels in March last year to help make the town a safer place to enjoy a night out.
Originally their aim was to curb antisocial behaviour in the town and help people into buses and taxis after nights out.
But the team found their time was better spent talking to young people hanging around in parks and they use the sweets as an icebreaker.
Hope Nottingham director Nigel Adams said: "Street Angels projects tend to deal with people at the end of an evening when they may need help – this can include things like giving flip-flops to women who can't walk in heels and looking after those in difficulty.
"After about two or three months of starting in Beeston, we found there were a lot of young people hanging around the town centre or parks before they go elsewhere for the nights. So we try to engage with them and encourage them to hang around without causing negative effects like too much noise.
"At first they aren't always keen to listen, but even the most surly 16-year-old becomes as receptive as a five-year-old when we gave them lollipops."
Mr Adams added that he was pleased the team of volunteers wasn't always dealing with drunk people.
He said: "We thought that the work would mostly be dealing with people leaving pubs and helping them to get home, or problems with antisocial behaviour.
"But happily it turns out that Beeston is a very quiet and well behaved town.
"With projects like these, we're always looking to do ourselves out of a job – but given that young people will continue to hang around in Beeston, we want to make sure they are safe when doing so.
"We just want to make sure everyone has a good time."
The Street Angels have a team of ten volunteers that go out on Friday and Saturday nights – and as the scope of the project has changed, the makeup of the team has too.
Mr Adams said: "As we have become more youth orientated, volunteers have left and other people have joined to strengthen the service.
"We will continue running the service for the foreseeable future – the running costs are relatively low.
"We appear to be having a positive impact too, so there's no reason not to carry on the work we have achieved."
The team also coordinated closely with the police during various events over the year, including turning on the Christmas lights.
They provide what Mr Adams describes as "positive crowd control".
Adam May, director of development for Street Angels Christian Night Life Initiative Network, which the Beeston group are part of, said: "Beeston has a very different project – it's about calming and encouraging young people. I'm really glad about it."
The network, which began in Halifax in 2005, now consists of over 100 volunteer groups across the country.
Mr May said: "It shows that people will pull up their sleeves for the sake of the local community."