WITH summer approaching, parents of teenagers may be fearful about their children heading off testing their independence on holidays abroad.
With TV shows highlighting the wild behaviour of some young Brits overseas, including binge-drinking, drugs and teenage hysteria, some may wonder if their offspring will come back in one piece.
But an initiative from an ex-pat Scot in Magaluf means young people heading to that resort at least will have a bit more protection this year.
Cameron Springthorpe, a native of Ardfern in Argyll, knows headlines in the UK offer regular cautionary tales about young British and Irish revellers falling from balconies, being robbed and assaulted on beaches or becoming victims of street prostitutes, who lure boys into alleyways and rob them. It's like the TV show, Sun Sex and Suspicious Parents, in action, except the parents aren't there.
So local town police, Guardia Civil, the British Consulate, and local ambulance crews, all brace themselves for the invasion of young holidaymakers, many of whom end up penniless, without a passport and, in extreme cases, badly injured or even dead, he says.
That's why Mr Springthorpe, who now lives on Majorca with his wife, founded the Street Angels, a group of 18 committed Christians, who are taking to the night-time streets of Magaluf this summer, to help vulnerable young people stay safe.
"We took the idea from the Street Pastors in Glasgow and Street Angels elsewhere in the UK, and decided to adapt it for Magaluf," he explains.
"Last year, we had a trial run in Santa Ponca, and it was successful. This year, we have the full backing and co-operation on the local police, regional Guardia Civil, and British Consulate, and are putting the lessons we learned into action."
The Street Angels all live on Majorca and come from different backgrounds and nationalities. They completed personal safety, conflict resolution and assault avoidance training, thanks to Glasgow-based Mike Greville, a director of personal safety training provider SALVAS, who travelled to the holiday island in April.
Mr Greville said: "Our company provides similar training to staff and volunteers at Glasgow City Mission Night Shelter, and to various groups of workers who interact with the public on the street, such as community wardens. Cameron got in touch with me to discuss the Street Angels' needs, such as how to move through the sort of inebriated crowds you find at 3am on the streets of Magaluf."
The training left the Angels better equipped to help young people who are often dangerously drunk, disorientated, unable to say what hotel they are staying at or have lost their friends.
"That's when they become vulnerable," explained Cameron. "We're able to step in, reunite them with their friends, call a free ambulance or contact the police, and generally get them off the street and into safety. Alcohol abuse is the main problem, and most of the balcony deaths are caused by drunk young people trying to climb from one balcony to another, so we try to help keep people safe by getting them back to their hotels before they become incapable."
Now the group are appealing to the travel trade to allow them to distribute safety leaflets to young people flying into Majorca, warning of the pitfalls that may await them, and letting them know the Angels are there for them. They're also on the lookout for a sponsor to help pay for a street-spec golf buggy to help them get vulnerable youngsters off the streets faster.
Mr Greville said "In many ways, Magaluf by night is a war zone," and indeed as the newly-trained Angels stepped on to the street at the end of their last training session, they stumbled over a body in the gutter, despite it still being just late afternoon. "It turned out that it was a lad on holiday from Northern Ireland. He had lost his pals the night before, after getting drunk, and had been robbed by local thieves," said Greville adds. "He was relieved to hear sympathetic voices talking in English, and I left my trainees to get to him to his hotel, sort out an emergency passport and whatever else was necessary. That's why we need the Street Angels, to save youngsters like him from themselves."
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