When the Mothers’ Union recently had their diocesan Summer Celebration in Birchencliffe Community Centre, the key note speaker was Paul Blakey MBE, founder of Street Angels.
In 2005 Paul took the problem of late night drinkers and their resulting behaviour to the Churches Together in the Halifax area. They talked around the problem and came up with the idea of ‘Street Angels’. The next step was to talk it through with the local police, who was very excited and 2 weeks later,
in November 2005, Street Angels was born. They gave it a 6 week trial and during that period 50 volunteers helped 69 people.
In 2006 it started in Watford, then to Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds, Harrogate and is now in 130 towns, even in the rowdy holiday resort of Magaluf!
In Halifax violent street crime has gone down by 42%.
Besides the Street Angels, there are now also Club Angels and Festival Angels.
The minimum age has to be 18, there is no maximum age. Volunteers have been known to be in their 80-ies.
Funding for street angels comes from the police, councils, churches and large stores.
Paul kept us entertained with some hilarious case histories, but he also changed the mood to sorrow with some harrowing tales. One of the most practical helpful tools is supplying high heeled girls, who are unable to walk, with a pair of flip-flops! They are ever so grateful...
Pope Francis said: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security”.