VOLUNTEERS at the Oldham Street Angels charity got a visit from an Oldham MP this week.
Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon met volunteers at the organisation to witness the work they do to help homeless people across the borough.
Taking to Facebook following his visit Mr McMahon wrote: “Homeless people too often fall through the cracks and have complex problems.
“I heard many personal stories, and it is clear to me that if we fail to support people to get back on track and live a stable and productive life, we always pay more as a society in the end. Meanwhile more lives are ruined as a consequence of not taking joined up and meaningful action.”
He added that volunteers at Oldham Street Angels “want to show that society doesn’t turn its back on people when times get hard”.
The group also provides night-time support on Friday and Saturday evenings to keep town centre visitors safe.
The charity has received support from Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s homeless scheme, as well as Oldham Council, GMP, the Oldham CCG and donations.
CNI Network led the Sunday Service which was broadcast to an audience of around 900,000 on BBC local radio stations across England and via BBC Sounds.
Listen to the service here.
In an article on Chaplaincy in London in the time of covid (full article here):
Ellie Barrett, Strip Club chaplain and Nightlife Ministries Coordinator for Third Space Ministries, Soho
“God probably hates me for what I’m doing” is often the perception of faith in the industry I work in, so the biggest breakthrough for me has been to show that whatever your life choices, you are a person and God does love and support you. We’ll usually go in pairs to the different clubs and spend about an hour sitting in the changing rooms or the breakout area so that when the girls are coming for breaks, they can sit and chat. We offer spiritual, emotional and pastoral support so if people just want to chat, that’s fine and if they want to talk about faith, that’s also fine. I’ve been blown away by how much people want prayer though and are starting to pray themselves, even without necessarily having faith. People are in the industry for different reasons and some enjoy the job but others don’t. Sometimes they need our support just for the night if they aren’t prepared for a situation that they’re in, or often it can be about family or friends or wider stuff that’s going on in their lives. Occasionally one of the girls might want to invite us to talk to her customer, so we’ll chat to him but the men aren’t our focus. During the lockdown conversations have been on the chaplaincy phone regarding mental health issues and not being able to do the work, or the fact they’re spending more time at home when, in some cases, home life isn’t that great. However, for those who were already thinking about making a change, Covid has given them a chance to take stock and a lot of them have chosen to go into new careers which are more stable at the moment. It’s been eye opening to me that I can still feel like a chaplain even though the clubs have been shut down for over a year. Since I started I’ve built some close relationships from seeing people on a weekly basis and going forward I’ll probably take those relationships with me. Even if they no longer need me as a strip club chaplain I can still be there as a support or a friend to them.
MyHouseYourHouse featured the Soundcheck ministry (link here):
Oldham Street Angels are one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive The Queen's Award for Voluntary Services in 2021.
Commonly known as the MBE for volunteer groups, it is the highest award a group can receive in the UK
The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving.
It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Blackpool crazy golf course restored by disadvantaged volunteers
A derelict crazy golf course in Blackpool has been given a new lease of life by charities and volunteers with a range of disadvantages.
The Princess Parade Crazy Golf Course, in the seafront sunken garden close to the Metropole Hotel, had fallen into disrepair and restoration work has been ongoing for the past two years.
Now, after being officially reopened on Friday last week, it is ready to welcome local and visitor golfers to test their skills on the historic site.
The revamp has been made possible thanks to a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund , via the Blackpool Fulfilling Lives programme, which has received £10m over seven years to support people struggling with homelessness, substance abuse and mental health issues.
Those involved in the renovation will also be involved in the running of the course.
Any profits will go to the Blackpool and Fylde Street Angels, a charitable organisation which runs a weekly outreach service and an emergency night shelter, seven days a week.
Paul Rawson, CEO of Blackpool and Fylde Street Angels, said: “Blackpool Fulfilling Lives approached us, offering to help with some of our community work.
"Whilst out picking up litter on the promenade as an organised activity, we came across the ‘sunken garden’.
"One of the volunteers said they would love to ‘do the site up’ and so the project started.
"Since that day we have had ongoing help from people experiencing multiple disadvantage and with the course finally open to the public, we will be asking those people to stay involved."
Ian Treasure, partnerships manager for Blackpool Fulfilling Lives, added: “As soon as the renovation was suggested we contacted Blackpool Council not wanting to lose enthusiasm or momentum.
"The estates, parks, and planning departments have been really helpful as there has been a lot of work behind the scenes to get us to this point.
"More importantly is the dedication of a few people, who have continued to turn up to help the renovation.
"Their commitment is an inspiration and testament to the reality that if you provide people facing complex needs with opportunities for connection and a sense of purpose, they can take steps away from destructive and debilitating lifestyles.
"They get a glimpse of personal hope.
"The Crazy Golf Course is a symbol of what the Fulfilling Lives programme was all about – not giving up on people who felt everyone had given up on them."
As well as involving local people in remedial works, the team also used the expertise of a crazy golf champion, Richard Gottfried.
Richard has helped advise on the playability of the course, and some of the history and is no stranger to the area.
He said: “I visit Blackpool regularly and have actually played this course many times when younger. It is a classic original layout.
"Crazy golf is having a resurgence and so I am hopeful we will see as many people as possible enjoying a round here again soon.”
The course will host competitions to coincide with high profile golfing events, and will offer individual adult, concession, and family tickets at a cost of £3, £2 and £10 respectively.
It is now open for weekends, working towards full opening in peak summer.
Paul Humble from Blackpool Civic Trust, who has been involved with the project, said: “Crazy golf was first played here in 1957, and it’s wonderful that the course is being reopened with its major original features restored and intact.
"Princess Parade and the sunken gardens are part of the Town Centre Conservation Area and also part of Blackpool’s much-loved seaside heritage."
There are two storyboards at either end of the course that document the history of the site going back to the 1700s.
As we approach the first weekend since lockdown restrictions eased, one group will be out patrolling once again.
City of Hull Street Angels is a registered charity which began in 2018 and eight volunteers will be in the city centre looking after those heading out for a few drinks.
Before the pandemic and during when restrictions allowed, volunteers patrol on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The volunteers, easily recognisable with their red jackets, will be back out from 8pm and will remain on hand so long as people remain out.
They provide drunken revellers who have over indulged with water and flip flops, wipes, foil blankets and vomit bowls if needed.
They even carry portable phone chargers so people can make urgent calls if their phones have run out of power. All volunteers are trained in basic first aid.
Trustee Carole Fenny says they are all eager to get back out once more.
She said: “We are all glad to be getting back out. We hope there will be lots of people as the bars and pubs have really struggled.
“We don’t really know what to expect or how busy it will be. We could be out until 3am or home by 11pm.
“We will have our van in Trinity Square like we usually do and will be manned by two volunteers at all times.”
Carole is also unsure what help people will need the most.
With Covid measures still in place, meaning people have to sit outside and nightclubs unable to open, it seems unlikely too many people will stay out until the early hours which reduce the chances of overindulging.
Carole said: “We will probably still be issuing flip flops and a number of people will probably want to charge their phones.
“People often come to our van to wait safely until their taxi or lift home arrives. We may have to help those who get cold as they won’t be allowed indoors.
“We have two paramedics with is this weekend which will be a great help.
“Most of us have recently been tested and we will be wearing masks with sanitiser available.
“It will be great to meet more people again and hopefully we will get some donations across the weekend.”
The charity, sponsored by Arco and the Lord Mayor’s charities, has also recently acquired a new minibus and is seeking help to have the City of Hull Street Angels logo applied.
Anyone who can help should go to the charity’s website, Facebook page or call Carole on 07729 637887.
OLDHAM was the first place in the country to roll out the Covid vaccine for homeless people.
James (who asked for his name to be changed to protect his identity) spoke to The Oldham Times as he collected his food parcel from Oldham Street Angels about being homeless during the pandemic.
The 43-year-old said he has tried to get a flat “on a few occasions” but he can’t seem to break his addiction to heroin and “anything else he can get his hands on”.
Fully equipped with his sleeping bag and pillow, proudly wearing a Manchester City T-shirt, James said his life was once a different one.
“I know it’s my fault that I am homeless, I have had the support but like they all say, you can’t get help if you won’t help yourself,” he said.
“I used to have a job as a labourer and ended up getting into the drugs, that led on to heroin and then it all went downhill. I’ve had some fantastic help from these people here at Street Angels and I have had a flat as well, but it’s a different life, it’s hard holding it all together and paying bills, sometimes I think it’s easier on the streets.”
Karl (who also requested his name to be changed), meanwhile, said he had managed to turn his life around thanks to the support from homeless services in the town and has recently received his second Covid vaccine.
He said: “I was in a bad place, I was stealing to feed my habit, I was getting myself into some dark situations. With the help and the support from Street Angels I got the right care, I was clean for a few months and that helped me get a place to live.
“I still come to Street Angels to get my food and toiletries, I even get clothes when I can. I can honestly say Street Angels are angels, they have saved me from the worst. I have had my jabs and I am grateful.”
Donate to the work of CNI Network here
Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network:
Registered Charity 1136416 / Company Limited by Guarantee 07173090
All content and various brand names (C) CNI Network
Postal Address: CNI Network, The King's Centre, Park Rd, Halifax, HX1 2TS
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (founder / CEO) / Phone: 07725501465