The Street Angels have been on the streets of Burton handing out hot drinks and flip-flops to party-goers every Friday night for the last two years. Mail reporter ELIZABETH FRY went out with the Street Angels to see what they really face.
AT 9.30 on a Friday night, most people not out at a bar are collapsed on the sofa in pyjamas and slippers with a steaming mug of tea.
However, there are a team of people in Burton whose night is just beginning.
At the St Mary and St Modwen Church, in Guild Street, the Street Angels don their fluorescent orange jackets and pack up an equally bright tangerine shopping trolley with cups and flip-flops.
Tonight there is a team of three Street Angels from Burton's New Baptist Church – group leader Phil Pusey, Estha Tarling and David – who all are first aid trained just in case someone needs a spot of medical attention.
Phil said: "We are there if someone needs our help, whether to talk, to have a hot drink or someone to walk them to a taxi."
The Street Angels can provide tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits, lollipops for people who need a sugar boost and flip-flops to stop girls from hurting themselves when they take off their heels and walk barefoot.
Estha also explained that the lollies often stop people from fighting.
She said: "You are not going to start a fight with a lolly in your hand."
After a quick prayer for the safety of those out enjoying themselves tonight, we are off into the centre of town to set up our table at the top of Station Street across the road from NatWest.
Here we can catch people leaving The Association, the Lord Burton, the Abbey and Fever, and it is not long before things get busy.
The Angels work with the door staff and those monitoring the CCTV in the town and say they have seen absolutely everything in their time.
Phil said: "Someone once came out of a club and face-planted the floor so we treated him for cuts and bruises to his face.
"Most of the people we help are people who have had too much to drink.
"Being a Street Angel is not for everyone, as some have not got the patience and ability to deal with what we have to deal with."
The youngest member of the team is 19-year-old Estha, who is a student with Youth for Christ and has helped with the Street Angels for 18 months.
She said: "I help because it was me a couple of years ago and I know what it is like to not be in control.
"It is also about showing people that they are loved and this is a good way of going out and loving everyone from all walks of life."
Some of their greatest achievements have included reuniting people with their keys, phones and wallets, helping a young boy find his new training shoe at the Statutes Fair, and, on one occasion, guiding a drunk person's partner into Burton to pick them up.
They also hand out drinks and biscuits to homeless people, and can refer them to the YMCA.
Aside from being mistaken as the RAC in their orange jackets, the team said they often get asked why they are out volunteering after working a full day in their day job.
Phil explained: "We are making the town centre a safer place.
"We have been told that violent assaults in Burton are down by 30 per cent since we started."
The Angels stay out to help people until about 2am, and the night picks up at about 11.30am. The team helps more than 30 people throughout the night, before heading home to their own warm beds.
If enough people join Street Angels they will be able to run on a Saturday night as well.
More information is available by e-mailing Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mail Comment - Angels of the night play a major role:
The sight of people falling out of pubs and clubs is one that litters every high street, up and down the country, week after week.
Whether it be friends loudly making their way to the next venue of choice or people slumped in a corner sleeping off a night of excess, the impact of a few too many can be witnessed by us all.
And while the police and door staff are there to keep an eye on anyone causing trouble, who is there to help those who need a little helping hand at the end of an evening?
The simple answer is the Street Angels.
While some might ignore someone in need, this group of dedicated volunteers give up their time until the early hours of the morning to try to keep people safe.
They dish out hot cups of tea and coffee, help get people into a taxi home and even offer up flip-flops for young women who have tired of a night in high heels.
The Street Angels do this for no praise and without recompense.
They do it to support people who need a little helping hand at the end of a night on the town.
They have no hidden agenda and no motive – they just want to help.
But, like a lot of groups at the moment, more help is needed to continue the service and even expand it in the future.
The Street Angels go out of their way to help others and for that they should be applauded for the small, but significant, role they play in society.
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