As the Street Angels has progressed we have recognized the need to extend the work with young people. This work is similar to Street Angels but is a development of it, so that it can be more effective with young people (initially we are focusing on the 10 to 21 age group). This development we have called Youth Angels and it is building upon the reputation, the trust and respect that Street Angels have earned in the community. Volunteers in the Angels can either specialize in Youth Angels or Street Angels or, as some are, be involved in both. The Street Angels Coordinator is the overall leader of all of the Angels, but has the additional help of a Youth Angels Coordinator.
A Church Response
Street Angels is a church based response to our community’s problems. By interacting with people on the street and in night time venues, we are there to care, to listen, to talk and to offer practical help. We are there for the vulnerable. This principle is extended with Youth Angels operating at an earlier time in the evening. However, instead of mainly patrolling like the Street Angels, as an intelligence led initiative the Youth Angels go to where the young people are - a much wider area than Street Angels have the capacity to cover. Street Angels is strongly based on the nationally recognized Street Pastor scheme, which has been very successful in these aims in over eighty towns and cities in the UK, seeing a highly significant reduction in street crime. Street Angels is about empowering the local church to be effective, working with other community agencies, in stemming violence, crime and anti-social behaviour on our streets. Youth Angels is part of this same response. As far as we are aware this development of Street Angels/Pastors focusing on young people is unique to Scarborough and we hope to be a national example and inspiration to other towns and cities.
As a church based scheme, we believe that to achieve our aims we need to demonstrate the practical love of Christ in our community, to be the Church in our community and to do this by being a visible presence. Our tag line is, ‘If you need help, we’re there for you’.
Aims of the Youth Angels
We dare to dream that we can make a positive difference in the lives of young people. Youth Angels aim to reduce the numbers of young people who may be at risk of involvement in alcohol and drug abuse, risky behavior as well as crime and anti-social behavior. We aim to be part of making our town a safe and welcoming environment for all generations, including reducing levels of perceived fear. We aim to foster community, not a sense of us and them, but a sense of ‘this is our town’ that is cross generational. Youth Angels aim (as part of an active community) to make our town a better, more interesting and exciting place to be, for young people and for all generations. We aim to provide young people with positive, alternative life choices. Youth Angels aim to be capable guardians for the youth of Scarborough, a friend, a big brother/sister, a parental figure, a positive role model. Our aim is to be perceived by the young people as someone who can be trusted, someone who will champion you and listen to you. Youth Angels aim to be an active part of our community that makes Scarborough one of the best places in the world in which to grow into maturity in adulthood.
The practical action for the Youth Angels is different to that of the Street Angels as it is aimed toward the young people. The emphasis is changed to allow more time to get to know the youth and develop relationships. For example: longer periods of time can be spent in one place. Initially Youth Angels will operate detached work on Friday evenings. Through relationship and leadership Youth Angels can be more proactive than Street Angels and be involved in education towards a safer more healthy lifestyle, including the avoidance of risky behavior. We can provide knowledge and support to help young people to enjoy and achieve, to make a positive contribution and to achieve economic well-being. As Christians we believe an essential aspect of being healthy, staying safe, enjoying life and achieving is spiritual exploration and awareness. It is important that we are available to be a listening ear and sounding board to young people in the area of spirituality. In addition, the Youth Angels have a very important sign posting role - helping young people to get the right information and directing them to help, advice and other activities.
Youth Angels (like Street Angels) may call parents or guardians out to young people at risk, or they may walk them home and communicate with them directly (giving advice for example on how to help a drunk young person). This helps parents/guardians to be more aware of what their children are doing. This can be an alarm bell for parents, realising that the next time it may be the police that are involved with their child.
As the young people get older and become part of the night life in Scarborough, the trust and relationship they have built up with the Youth Angels can only further increase the effectiveness of the work of the Street Angels.
As Street Angels we state that three of the biggest groups in any town are the Church, Local Government and the Police. The Church has thousands of members that can be encouraged and equipped to bring positive change in our community. Local Government has the resources to start new initiatives and help the vulnerable. Local Government can help by training, challenging and encouraging the people of the Church as they go out into the community. The Police do deal with offenders, but they also aim to prevent crime. As the Police work with the Church in the community, together we can work for peace and stability. The Police also have access to training resources that the Church may not have access to.
This principle of partnership is developed as Youth Angels as we look to be distinct to, but working in partnership with, the County Council, the Borough Council, Safer Communities, 4Youth, CCTV, the Cambridge Centre and Sidewalk. It is important that we are in communication with the multi agency initiative that is called Street Safe. Indeed, cooperation and effective communication will be the key to the successful operation of the Youth Angels.
When working with young people another important area of partnership is of course working with parents and guardians and this is an area that as the Angels we will seek to develop.
Over the past month and a half we have been out we have built up some good relationships with many of the local youths of Scarborough and have been actively involved with diversionary activities both out door and indoor ranging from music events at the Royal Spa, outdoor events such as a professional mountain bike demonstration at the Skate park, live bands, arts and crafts at Burniston and games on the beach by working along side and with other youth agencies, 4Youth and a multi agency initiative Street Safe. We are looking forward to a great summer and year to come. We have at present, 14 volunteers that help on a regular basis that have a heart with working with the Youth of Scarborough.