A BISHOP became an Angel for the night in Huddersfield.
The Right Rev Tony Robinson, who is Bishop of Pontefract, spent a few hours on the streets of the town centre at night with the Street Angels.
He joined Diane Hughes, who co-ordinates the scheme in the town and backed the work of the volunteers.
Bishop Tony is Patron of the national Christian Nightlife Initiative (CNI) – a network of over 120 projects where volunteers patrol the streets of towns at weekends to help those who find themselves in vulnerable situations.
Some are worse for wear from alcohol or drugs, lost, fallen out with friends or stranded without a way home.
He joined police officers on patrol around King Street and Cross Church Street.
Bishop Tony said: “Street Angels are Christians putting the command to ‘love your neighbour’ into practice.
“They show that we can still make a difference in our communities.
“I hope others will think about volunteering to be a Street Angel and give a few hours a month to make our town safer and local people feel more secure.”
The simple idea started 17 years ago in Northern Ireland, 12 years ago in Dundee and seven years ago in England and in that time it has seen crime reduced, lives changed, volunteers equipped and communities transformed on a weekly basis.
In Huddersfield the volunteers started the Street Angels in March 2007 as part of Kirklees Safer Stronger Communities Partnership when there were more than 40 volunteers.
The most recent figures from Kirklees suggest they have helped overall violent crime to reduce by 40%.
But over the past year the number of volunteers has dropped.
In Calderdale, Street Angels began in November 2005.
Paul Blakey, the Founder of CNI, said violent crime has reduced by 57% over the last five years in Halifax town centre and sexual assaults have reduced significantly.
“Thousands of people have received help and assistance – including elderly people leaving the theatre, young people who have become vulnerable in the town, those who are homeless, those who have had a few too many to drink and need a helping hand, visitors who need direction, people in need of basic first aid but not a trip to A&E.
“The volunteers have helped many, through referrals to other agencies, to move away from a life of drinking too much.
“And there are other tasks like picking up thousands of glasses and bottles making the streets cleaner and safer.”
RELIGION is sometimes in the news for the wrong reasons with the church facing some challenging times to meet the expectations of an ever-changing society.
But the Christian message of ‘love thy neighbour’ is put into practice on Huddersfield town centre’s streets every weekend.
The Street Angels are there to help people – it’s as simple as that.
They are a comfort and support for those who find themselves in vulnerable situations.
The revellers may be worse for wear from alcohol or drugs, lost, fallen out with friends or stranded without a way home.
All of these scenarios can put people – especially girls – in potential danger.
The Street Angels are a great example of practical Christianity having a practical effect by visibly helping to reduce night-time crime.
They also avoid the need for many people to go to hospital casualty departments by giving basic first aid or picking up glass and bottles.
The Angels are taking that age-old message out on the streets to young people who would not normally give religion a second thought – and do it all for the good of society.