Street Angels was launched in Halifax in November 2005 as a response by Churches Together and YMCA in the town to the problems around the nightlife. Violence, sexual assaults, under age and binge drinking meant the town was a no go area for many people. The project went from idea to reality in just over two weeks and had the full support of the town centre’s Police.
As the project became a success very quickly representatives from other towns and cities across the UK (and beyond) visited Halifax or spoke to the founder Paul Blakey about Street Angels. In July 2006 Watford Street Angels launched with Huddersfield Street Angels launching in October 2006 and Harrogate Town Pastors in December 2006.
By the end of 2007 thirteen towns were running Street Angel, or similar, projects with many more interested in setting up similar scheme and invitations were received for volunteers from Halifax to carry out talks in various conference events including Church, Police and Government networks.
In 2008 a vision was set to help establish a UK Network of night-time projects and so to launch this the first Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network conference was held in Halifax. With around fifty attendees from across the UK the project helped inspire and equip those running projects and helped several new projects to launch. The number of UK projects numbered thirty one by the end of 2008 with twenty nine more interested visits from towns and cities across the UK and around the world.
A further ten projects launched in 2009 and Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives was gaining momentum as a great way for the local church to make a difference within the local community at a time when help and assistance is most needed. The flexibility of the Street Angels model means that it can work in a small village where the problems are centred around young people sat in a park drinking to large cities where patrol projects are needed until the early hours of the morning.
In 2010 the year started with founder Paul Blakey receiving a MBE in the New Years Honours which helped establish Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives and projects across the UK as a concept honoured at the highest level. In April 2010 Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives became its own charity with an aim to strengthen the national work of the organisation. Paul and Adam May, who was previously leading the Bedford expression started to spend more time developing the network and supporting existing projects and helping new projects to start. Around sixty eight projects, that we know of, were working across the UK by the end of 2010 and the Paul and Adam spent much of the year establishing links with national Church and Police networks as well as MP’s and other organisations who can support some of the issues found within the night-time economy.
2011 has seen our links continue and with Paul continuing and Adam starting his working on CNI full time (Paul in addition to full time on Halifax Street Angels) five strands of the work of CNI were established: Local projects - supporting, resourcing, helping new towns to launch and forming regional development workers; Network - helping local projects link with the bigger picture and linking with other agencies; National Influence - becoming a nationally recognised voice for faith and community projects working in the night-time economy; Making The Difference - providing resources to equip people and groups and helping tell the story; Love Your Streets - encouraging community and social action that all can do. These five strands have helped us focus where God is taking CNI Network.
The future is unknown - like much of Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives God is in charge and much of we do is catch up with where God is taking us!
CNI is to become its own charity separate from Halifax Street Angels and funding is currently being sought for Paul and Adam to maintain their commitment to CNI full time. There are many plans and our vision is great - for more information see: www.cninetwork.org.uk / www.loveyourstreets.org.uk / www.streetangels.org.uk / www.wehelpedu.org.uk / www.makingthedifference.org.uk - find us on Facebook and Twitter!