Our CEO, Paul Blakey, was at Bishopthorpe Palace, the home of the Archbishop of York, for a day looking at Spring Harvest in Harrogate. The day was hosted by the Archbishop and was attended by key church leaders from across the North of England. We looked at how Spring Harvest can celebrate and resource the church in the North. For more details on the event in 2020 see here.
Paul was interviewed on Premier Christian Radio News Hour (and repeated in news bulletins) around a survey on kindness - he chatted #Do1NiceThing, the work of volunteers, the role that Christians can play in volunteering and the need for prayer and action to go hand in hand - listen here at 50 minutes
October is #MonthOfPurple to celebrate Purple Flag and the night-time communities who hold this.
CNI Network have projects in the Purple Flag towns of Bournemouth, Chester, Guildford, Halifax, High Wycombe, Leeds, Leicester Square and Watford.
More on Purple Flag month: The annual celebration of the Purple Flag programme, which recognises excellence in the management of the evening and night-time economy (ENTE) in the UK and Ireland, will be taking place during the whole month of October 2019, starting today.
Towns and cities across the country are planning a wide-range of events to not only showcase the quality, diversity and vibrancy of their ENTE, but also to challenge the common negative, perceptions about the safety and quality of our town and city centres during the evening.
The ‘after dark’ economy is worth an estimated £72bn annually to the UK, supporting thousands of businesses, employing 4.5% of the UK workforce, and significantly contributing to local economies. This series of events through October intends to capture people’s imaginations, change perceptions and encourage people to do something different with their evening in a variety of locations.
The final Festival Angels team of 2019 were at Mint Festival at East Leeds Airport in Church Fenton. Working with Simon Biddlestone, the curate of the local Anglican church, the team offered detached teams who wandered round the site offering help and support to the 15,000 festival goers. Here are a few pictures from the day...
Paul was on BBC Radio Leeds reviewing the Sunday papers (22nd September 2019) - before the paper review Paul chatted about Street and Festival Angels over the summer - click here to listen
Streams of Living Water! We Are The Church
During the hottest August Bank Holiday on record over 60 volunteers from across Chester and Liverpool Dioceses came together to serve the revellers at the Creamfields Festival. Held each year at Daresbury in the Deanery of Great Budworth the electronic music festival attracts over 70,000 people. This is the third year that there has been an official Christian presence on site. Over the course of the weekend volunteers gave out out in excess of 4000 litres of water and 2,800 Jammy Dodgers! ‘Record temperatures meant that we saw a lot of heat exhaustion, sunburn and dehydration this year’ said Jonny Masters, Diocesan Youth, Children and Families' Missioner and member of the planning team, ‘We worked very hard to get water to those who needed it and were moved by how grateful people were for our help.’
This year the organisers of Creamfields approached the planning team to ask them to double their presence on site and will be in discussion in the coming year to see how their presence might be further expanded in the future. Planning Team Leader Rev’d Jane Proudfoot reflected that, ‘our ecumenical team of volunteers have been brilliant! They’ve had incredible conversations, funny moments, moving experiences, eye-opening, heart rending, godly encounters and I know that the blessing has been mutual - they have been a blessing and they have received blessing from those they have helped’, she continued, ‘There have been some really difficult things that some of our team have dealt with, they have gone the extra mile to help and care. Their faith and trust in what God has been doing through them at Creamfields is amazing!’
New volunteer Melanie said ‘I was nervous and excited going but surprised myself for feeling part of the team and comfortable talking to people. It was just such a joy and privilege to work with beautifully blessed and like-minded people and with the festival goers who where just so appreciative and surprised to get free biscuits, water and kindness.’
More volunteers will be needed next year and full training is given. The only requirement is that you enjoy meeting people and are a good listener. The team are grateful for the donations from churches across the Diocese that enable this mission. If you would like to donate, get involved in volunteering or to find out more, please contact the planning team at email@example.com
There is no escaping we live in a social media world! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, live video streaming as well as the old fashioned website are all amazing tools to connect with people. CNI Network is a fan of social media and see it as an essential tool to let people know what you are up to, to gather support and prayer and to even recruit potential new volunteers.
A Facebook post by Boro Angels (see below) has had 4 enquiries from people wanting to volunteer. The post has had 91 likes and 29 shares (share this post as it was a powerful story that shows why we do what we do!)
A video posted by BBC Yorkshire of Leeds Festival Angels has had 183,386 views in less than a month - we have received numerous comments, people liking the Facebook page and some wanting to sign up to volunteer next year (why not re-post the social media or TV clip saying 'not only are we at Leeds Festival we are also on the streets of ... this weekend!)
If, as a local project, you are wanting to engage with those you help and potential new volunteers can we encourage you as you patrol this weekend to post some pictures of the team (though not of people whilst helping them) or maybe a Facebook Live (you only need a smartphone and the Pages Manager app) to showcase the amazing work you do. Tell a story of someone you helped (avoid names and detail). Post the safenightout.party info as well to engage with those going on a night out. If you tag CNI Network in your post we will share as well.
Social media is free and the potential is vast - use it to your advantage!
Once again Festival Angels volunteers were making a difference at music festivals and events across the UK.
Festival Angels began life at Leeds Festival in 2011 and has grown over the years with 2019 seeing teams at 14 different music festivals including Kendal Calling, YNot, Eastern Electrics and Creamfields.
The heart of the Festival Angels is to help festival goers have a safe and enjoyable time through the offer of detached teams, safe hubs, prayer cafes and, at Leeds, running Lost Property.
Our teams went above and beyond time and again. This year has seen us patrolling through the rain and mud of Kendal Calling; supporting those who had turned up in Newquay for Boardmasters which was cancelled the day before the start due to the forecast of 65mph winds; and keeping thousands of people hydrated in the glorious sun and high temperatures of Leeds.
As a Christian organisation our team were on hand to chat, listen and pray with people and many took the opportunity to share issues and concerns. We also had our famous 'Jesus Loves Festivals' branding with many taking the opportunity for a selfie with Jesus! We also supported a 'Jesus Calls Will U Follow' banner plane which flew over most of the large events over the summer across the UK.
To see more of what Festival Angels get up to BBC Look North joined us at Leeds Festival - https://youtu.be/2--5d-e9P6c - or visit festivalangels.org.uk for pictures and reports.
Some feedback from festival-goers:
"My daughter was telling me how fantastic you are , so I thankyou for all you do , keep up the good work "
"@FestivalAngels got me through #leedsfestival2019 absolute legends"
"Love u festival angels you are best cuppa at any time of day or night thanks for giving up your time and being there"
"What fantastic people - they helped my daughters friends! Thanks and keep up the good work! Xxx"
"Thank you @FestivalAngels ....lost my phone at leedsfestival on friday night. Returned to me the next day with a full charge too..you guys rock"
"shoutout to @FestivalAngels for supplying the unlimited cafe, drinks n biscuits 24/7. so so appreciative for it n I think it’s so under appreciated. Honestly couldn’t of coped without"
And from our amazing Festival Angel volunteers:
"We've had an absolute blast. You are an amazing group of people and we are so proud to be part of Leeds Festival Angels. It was brilliant to meet up with so many old friends and also to make so many new friends this year. Here's to 2020 and hope to see you all again then."
"Thanks for the opportunity to work with such a bunch of amazing people! My first, and hopefully not last time doing this. A wonderful and rewarding experience. Thank you all "
"Thanks everybody for a great Leeds Festival once again. Sincerely hope to come back for year 6."
"Totally loved doing festival angels this year!! Helping so many young festival revellers have fun Thanks for having us "
Below is text for Christmas editions of church and community magazines. Please feel free to amend to better suit your local project / area.
'Tis the season for Angels! Angels make a big appearance in the story of Christmas and no doubt the next few weeks we will be singing 'Hark the herald angels sing', 'Angels from the realms of glory' and several others!
Angels make a big appearance on our streets, inside nightclubs and at festivals too! Teams of Street Angels, Club Angels and Festival Angels are out and about in communities throughout the year, not just at Christmas!
These amazing angelic volunteers are helping keep our communities and people, especially within the night-time economy, safe. Offering flip-flops or a plaster, a bottle of water or time to chat - these angels will be on patrol and making a massive difference as a result.
In June this year one of our Street Angels teams came across a young man holding his head and kneeling over, very dazed, having had his head bashed against a wall. The team took him to a safe hub and left him. Three months later this same man came to say "thank you for saving my life". It turns out the safe hub team had got him to A&E and a brain scan revealed a bleed on the brain.
We are called to be angels! We can all be God's hands and feet, delivering good news of great joy through words and action. Taking the time to look out for others. Asking God to make his Kingdom known through our daily living.
This Christmas do pray for our teams out on the streets and in clubs (or maybe consider volunteering if there is a team near you!) If you are going on a night out yourself have a SafeNightOut.party and remember these top tips:
Stay with friends, don't go off alone, have contact info somewhere other than your phone.
Ladies - carry a pair of slip-on shoes for when high heels become unbearable.
Always eat before a night out and don't start cooking once you get home.
Know what you are drinking and how much you have - mix alcohol with soft drinks.
Pick a venue right for you - if you feel out of place, leave!
Keep your taxi money in another part of your handbag / wallet. Take a picture of the taxi and taxi drivers ID and message it to a friend.
For more information on the work of Street, Club and Festival Angels or to make a donation check out cninetwork.org (CNI Network is the umbrella organisation for all things angelic!!!)
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Some images to use:
From David - the coordinator of Boro Angels in Middlesbrough:
When I talk at an event or to a group about Boro Angels, I often say I'm certain our teams have helped save lives, because I know we will have since we first went out in January 2010, whether it's a guy we took to the Safe Haven or called an ambulance for or the vulnerable person we stayed with until they were safe.
Well here's one straight from the horses mouth. One of our teams in June, Josh, Campbell and Natalie, came across a guy holding his head and kneeling over, very dazed. He had had his head bashed against a wall and they escorted him to the Safe Haven and, as is often the case, we didn't hear what happened next.
Well this guy was out on the town last night, he came up to one of the teams, which included Natalie and Campbell, Josh was, incidentally, leading the other team last night, and said "thank you for saving my life." It turned out he was taken by ambulance from the Safe Haven to A&E, where he had a brain scan which showed a bleed to his brain.
The teams had the usual sticking plasters, bottles of water. flip flops and lollys last night, and to also hear a story like this, that could have had such a different, tragic outcome but for our teams' intervention, makes me proud to be part of a project that has such exceptional guys, spending many hours, helping total strangers, because they care.
I am not ashamed to say there are tears in my eyes as I write this, well done to each and every one of our volunteers. I say time and time again, I am only asked to speak at events, represent Boro Angels on groups and committees or asked for opinions about the night-time economy from Middlesbrough Council, Cleveland Police and the media because of what this group of people do on a Saturday night, without them Boro Angels are nothing.
As we approach our 10th anniversary in January 2020, we look forward to making a difference for the next 10 years and beyond.
Remember, "It's all about people." God Bless you all.
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