When it comes to keeping safe on nights out, revellers in Cleethorpes have their very own guardian angels, as Crime Reporter Peter Craig discovered when he joined them for a shift.
ANGELS descended to give succour to troubled souls in Cleethorpes over the bank holiday weekend.
They came bearing gifts of flip flops and bottles of water to those they found in a distressed state on Cleethorpes' streets late at night.
Many of the tired and emotional revellers in need had consumed too much alcohol and were simply given support to get home safely, but the dedicated volunteers also regularly provide First Aid to those who need medical attention.
The group first started their angelic work nearly three years ago, thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Inspector Tom Shaw, of Humberside Police.
They received a £30,000 grant from the Home Office and spent around £10,000 on training the volunteers and providing equipment.
The team of angels are also supported by donations from customers of the many pubs and clubs in Cleethorpes who put money in charity collection boxes earmarked for The Street Angels.
And the team – including Inspector Shaw, team leader Matt Wooffindin, volunteers Heather Morton and Ian Pearson – are still recruiting, taking along prospective volunteers on their nighttime shifts to show them the ropes.
One such woman, who did not wish to be named, said she was impressed with the dedication and service of the volunteer band.
She had read about the appeal for more Street Angels after reading the Grimsby Telegraph and decided to give it a try.
She said: "Someone tweeted me a link and I read about what they do.
"My days of partying out all night are nothing like what they were when I was in my 20s. The Street Angels are a great initiative.
"I am having a look at what they do tonight with a view to being a volunteer.
"I have also done voluntary work with The Samaritans.
"The Angels are not enforcing any rules. We are here to look after people's welfare.
"And if we see anyone having bother or in a dispute we can direct the CCTV camera operators to monitor the scene. We are not here to intervene."
Inspector Shaw added that the Angels had many other valuable roles, including picking up abandoned or broken bottles left lying around the pavements or streets in case anyone walking bare-foot cut their foot accidentally by walking on the broken glass.
Women in high-heels can often end up with damaged shoes, so the volunteers have a ready supply of flip flops to protect the visitors' feet.
Inspector Shaw, who has patrolled the streets of Cleethorpes and supervised policing in the area for up to 30 years, said: "Our role is one of public safety and providing support to people who are vulnerable.
"It is a case of getting them away from the night-time economy of the resort and making sure they either get home safely or get taken to hospital if they need medical treatment."
Team leader Matt said his experiences caring for his friends when they got drunk during his time at university had given him a grounding for the role.
He said: "I found the skills I learned in those situations have helped me here and I have just continued using them.
"I love the place. There are a lot of people to give support. It is quite a friendly place and most of the time people are getting on well and having a good time.
"We also learn the ability to see situations develop and step in before they escalate into a worse situation – so long as it is safe for us to do so.
"We don't see too much nastiness. All you need is the will to help out."
He added that the team of around 25 volunteers would welcome more volunteers and ideally have a pool of around 40 to share the Saturday night tasks, allowing them to consider sending a party of Street Angels into Grimsby as well as Cleethorpes.
The volunteers provide their service all year round and have helped scores of people in need in Cleethorpes.
Heather Morton, one of the founder members, said: "It is helpful to have women in the group, because much of the work is ensuring females get home safely and we arrange for taxis to come to pick people up and get them home safely.
"I have had some women suffer from seizures because of a medical condition.
"We are first aid trained and also skilled in conflict management."
Volunteer, Ian Pearson, who volunteers up to three Saturdays each month, said: "When we first started there were a few leery comments from people. Now people are thanking us all the time.
"We have situations where people have had things slipped into their drinks and they become dazed."
The Street Angels project is co-ordinated by Churches Together in North East Lincolnshire. Volunteers don't have to belong to a church to be part of the team. The project is supported by Safer and Stronger Communities, Humberside Police, Vanel Volunteer Centre and other local agencies.
North East Lincolnshire Council service manager for safer and stronger communities, Spencer Hunt said: "The help offered by Street Angels is proving very popular with revellers and importantly they are helping to reduce the number of calls to emergency services."
Become an angel
Street Angels must be aged 18 or over. Volunteers must also provide references, undergo a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check and attend a training programme.
Street Angels wear a uniform when on duty and must be willing to be available for at least one Saturday night per month from 9.30pm to 2.30am.
For more details or an application form, e-mail Jackie Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in to the Volunteer Centre, 14 Town Hall Street, Grimsby.
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