CARMARTHEN NightLight has celebrated its fifth anniversary of helping people on the town's streets on Saturday nights.
Five years ago, at 10pm on January 15, 2011, three very nervous volunteers from Carmarthen NightLight stepped out onto the streets of Carmarthen for the first time.
They had no idea how people would react to being offered a pair of flip flops or a bottle of water when they had been out dancing and could no longer wear their shoes, or if they had drunk too much and were unsteady on their feet.
NightLight co-ordinator Reverend Coralie Steel said: "We need not have worried. Once we'd explained that we were from local churches and chapels and were there to help if we could, people welcomed us with open arms – often literally!"
"Over the years, we've received countless hugs and handshakes, been called 'legends' and 'angels', and some of us have even received proposals of marriage! After we'd been going out every Saturday night for a few weeks, people knew who we were and would seek us out for flip flops, water, a plaster for damaged toes or a lollipop."
Every weekend is different. The NightLight volunteers now go out from about 11pm to 2.30-3am, depending on how busy it is. They have roused people who've fallen fast asleep in alleyways or doorways and encouraged them to make their way home, out of the cold. They've given shivering girls wearing flimsy dresses foil blankets to keep them warm while they wait for a taxi on the steps of the Council offices in Spilman Street. The volunteers can offer a listening ear to anyone who's feeling upset and have frequently reunited friends who've got separated.
Coralie added: "We have never been threatened while out on the streets. We are always in mobile phone contact with the other half of our team, who stay in the NightLight base while the street team is out, and we carry a radio so that we can contact the police if necessary.
"We are proud of what Carmarthen NightLight has achieved during the past five years and hope we will be able to carry on looking after people who are out enjoying themselves for many years to come."
Superintendent Claire Parmenter of Dyfed Powys Police said: "The NightLight facility provides a valuable additional resource to alert us to any crime or incidents so that officers can act swiftly. In addition, the NightLight volunteers deal with people who are not causing any real issues but sometimes need assistance in locating friends or a taxi to get them home safely.
"This assistance avoids officers being called to assist and leaves them free to deal with more serious incidents or calls for service."
Carmarthenshire County Council executive board member for community safety Cllr Pam Palmer said: "The Carmarthenshire Community Safety Partnership has supported Carmarthen NightLight from the start. It has proved to be a very successful project which has been able to help a good many people over the years it's been operating.
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