Source - West Yorkshire Police web site:
Angels are taking to the streets of Headingley to watch over revellers enjoying the area’s night-time economy.
Street Angels, in the form of local church volunteers, are set to patrol the streets at weekends to offer help to people using the area’s bars, pubs and clubs, which are particularly popular with students.
The project has just got off to a flying start thanks to a grant of £1,495 from the West Yorkshire Police Community Trust which awarded grants to groups across the county this week.
Supported by officers from the North West Inner Neighbourhood Policing Team, the Angels will be on the lookout for those in distress through drink and others in need of their help.
They will help people get home and look after those who have become separated from friends. Their work will help to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour and stop people becoming potential victims of crime, while freeing up police resources to deal with more serious incidents.
The Angels, which will include student volunteers from the universities, are being given training in basic first aid, drugs awareness, conflict management and health and safety so they can offer practical assistance to those in need and calm situations before they escalate.
They will wear distinctive high-visibility jackets - which have been printed with their logo for free by Leeds-based firm Aspli Safety Ltd - and be equipped with radios linking them to the NiteNet system used by local door staff, licensees and the police.
Safer Leeds, the city’s crime and disorder reduction partnership, has secured funding from drinks firm Diageo for alcohol awareness packs that will be handed out by the Angels where required along with useful items such as water, flip flops and foil blankets to keep people warm.
The team will operate from the annexe at South Parade Baptist Church, in Kirkstall Lane, which will be used as a ‘safe haven’ where people can go while their friends are found or a taxi called.
The scheme has been organised by the local Churches Together group covering Headingley and surrounding areas and follows successful Street Angels projects in Halifax and Bradford and other parts of the country that have won widespread acclaim.
Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, Divisional Commander for North West Leeds Division, said: “The work of Street Angels has made a really valuable contribution to keeping people safe in other parts of West Yorkshire and around the country and we are confident it will bring the same benefits here.
“It is an excellent scheme which has our full support. It is something that will not only help keep potentially vulnerable people safe on a night out but will also assist the work of my officers to cut crime and anti-social behaviour for the benefit of all people living in and visiting the Headingley area.”
The Reverend Paul Merryweather, of the Greater World Church, in Clarendon Road, Leeds, has helped to set up the scheme.
He said: “Since last year a great deal of working and planning has gone on to find a project such as this to better relations and work towards breaking down the barriers between all age groups and faiths within our community.
“The Greater World is pleased to be a part of this new and wonderful venture which promises to be very exciting for everyone involved and those who wish to make a safer and brighter place for all to be.
“It will most certainly benefit both students and residents in the long term as they tackle a variety of problems and raise the awareness of those in vulnerable situations. We hope with the help of all the organisations and faith groups working together it will be possible to establish a community spirit that will grow in strength and improve the atmosphere in the environment.”
Street Angel patrols are due to begin in Headingley later next month.
To find out more about becoming a Street Angel or supporting the group email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow the group on Facebook and Twitter.