Street Angels Report (from Annual Report):
2011 proved to be an exciting year for Street Angels with a new Co-ordinator, another successful recruitment, an extension into Monday nights and the opening of a Safe Space, not to mention being invited to the Cathedral when royal visitors celebrated its 50th anniversary. We covered additional “special” nights such as A Level results night and this year, for the first time, we were invited to have a presence at Guilfest.
Becky Edmonds brought Street Angels through the snow into 2011 but then, in February, her husband took up a new job which meant they had to move away from Guildford. Her ability to connect so well with everyone out on the streets and her cheerful smile have helped Street Angels to go from strength to strength and we thank her for all she has done to build the Street Angels project into what it is today.
Lin Haynes had helped with Street Angels administration right from the start and twice covered Becky’s maternity leave, making her the ideal person to seamlessly take over as Co-ordinator.
Street Angels have continued to be on the streets of the town centre every Friday and Saturday between 10.00 pm and 4.00 am throughout the year. However, following another successful recruitment with 22 new Street Angels commissioned in October, we have, in addition, been able to field teams on 2 Monday nights each month. Monday is student night which makes for a night with a different feel about it. Of course not everyone out and about is a student but the majority are, making their way into town quite late in the evening. Initially the students didn’t understand the concept of Street Angels, wondering who we were, but it didn’t take long for them to recognise us and stop for a chat and a lolly.
Recruitment started again immediately after the October Commissioning Service when volunteers came forward asking to be included in this pastoral work. 7 people completed their training and have since become fully fledged Street Angels.
At the beginning of December, we opened a Safe Space at the YMCA’s Plantation Café, operating on Friday and Saturday nights. This is somewhere warm and safe where Street Angels can take particularly vulnerable people. The Safe Space is manned by 2 trained volunteers who are prepared to stay on after 4.00 am until the first trains leave the station if necessary.
It was very secretive at first. We received an invitation to meet with the Bishop’s PA to discuss the visit of “2 significant VIPs” to the Cathedral in November. Eventually the cat was out of the bag and we learned it was to be the Queen and Prince Philip. Along with another dozen or so local charities, we were asked to provide a manned display stand by which the Prince would stop and briefly chat. We decided to have a human “display” along with the usual display boards and so it was that one of the Angels, Carol, dressed up as the sort of girl that we might meet on the streets in the small hours. The Prince was delighted to stop, being especially appreciative of our “live” display and he even accepted one of the “I support Street Angels” wristbands as a gift.
We currently have close on 100 Street Angels who choose to spend one night a month in all weathers showing God’s love to those who are in town for a night out, the door staff, the emergency workers, the homeless and the lonely. We continue to hand out flip flops to those who are barefoot (around 1,000 to date), space blankets to those who are under-dressed, tissues and wipes to those who need mopping up as well as more than 25,000 lollies to boost low blood sugar levels and as a main "tool" in diffusing potentially aggressive situations. We continue to befriend the homeless, stand by the youngsters abandoned by their friends and to spend as long as it takes to chat with, and help shoulder the burdens of, all who seek a listening ear and an understanding word.
Of course we lose a few of our Street Angels as they move away or have changed circumstances but any Street Angel will say why they continue to volunteer – they want to help keep people safe in our town and to be there for whoever might need them.