A MAJOR new initiative aimed at bringing peace to a town’s night-time economy is about to get underway.
The Northallerton Street Angels project will be launched at a special commissioning service in the town’s New Life Baptist Church on Sunday.
And the first three-strong patrol will take to the streets in late May, patrolling between the hours of 10pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.
The aim of the Street Angels is to provide assistance, care and reassurance over the period when the pubs and clubs are closing and some people may be the worse for wear.
In high-visibility jackets and equipped with radios, the trained volunteers will patrol a set route and hopefully will act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.
And as well as first-aid kits, their more unusual equipment will include flip-flops, for those female revellers who can no longer walk on their high heels, and even lollipops – which are known to help calm people down.
The project has the full backing and assistance of the police, who approached New Life mission pastor Steve Cowie and asked him to set it up after the Home Office pulled the plug on funding the town’s old night marshal scheme.
The Street Angels is a countrywide church-led – although not church-exclusive - programme that now operates in some 130 towns and cities. It was first launched in Halifax in 2005 – and led to a 57 per cent reduction in night-time violence.
The Northallerton scheme has been awarded almost £11,000 from police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan’s community fund. That has paid for equipment, training and insurance and contributed towards three years running costs.
Some 40 volunteers are so far taking part although more are being sought, both to take part in patrols and work in support.
Mr Cowie said: “The Street Angels are not a substitute for the police but will be a reassuring presence and help deter crime.”
Sunday’s commissioning service, to which all are welcome, begins at 10.30am and will include a presentation from the man who originally launched the Street Angels programme, Paul Blakey.
Also present will be senior police, fire and ambulance officials, local councillors and Richmondshire’s Tory MP Rishi Sunak.
For more details about the scheme visit nlbc.org.uk/street-angels