ARMED with a bag of flip-flops, their divine intervention has helped scores of Christmas revellers get home safely.
But the Street Angels now need help themselves - after the number of volunteers slumped from an initial 30-plus to a determined core of just 12
And they have made an urgent appeal for like-minded volunteers willing to give up three hours of their time on a Saturday night to help those who, through their over-indulgence, are putting themselves and others at risk.
While it is a Christian-led initiative, new volunteers don’t need to be Christian themselves - so long as they are caring and non-judgemental and are willing to work anti-social hours for nothing.
Angela Southern,, 56, of St Mark’s, is one of the three Street Angels co-ordinators and has been involved in the Douglas Churches Town Centre Partnership project from the outset. It began on a trial basis last Easter and become fully operational in TT Week. Volunteers range in age from 22 to 75.
She said: ‘For a long time I’ve been a member of the Methodist Church but I got fed up with attending meetings and decided I would start doing something positive. I find it fulfilling - it’s nice to be out there helping people.
‘Street Angels started in Halifax and is now established in more than 100 cities and towns throughout the UK. We initially had 30-plus volunteers but for one reason or another we’ve really struggled and now only have a core of 12.
‘We are opening up applications from any individuals - you don’t have to be part of a particular church.’
It’s been a busy Christmas and New Year period for the Street Angels. But what reception have the volunteers had from festive revellers?
Angela said: ‘Douglas is not a bad town to be out on. People are generally out from a good night. There are happy drunks. Over the Christmas period some people have had one or more drinks than they should have done.
‘We’ve had no abuse from anybody. We’ve got really positive feedback. People are surprised that we are not getting paid for it. They appreciate it and have asked to have their photo taken with us, shaking our hands.
‘One of our volunteers said he’s had more hugs from young ladies at the age of 70 than when he was 17! There was one occasion where we came across a pregnant lady who was really drunk. It’s was so sad. We had to call the police to assist her.’
The Street Angels. who are fully trained before they go on patrol, are careful not to put themselves in danger. ‘If we see trouble we run the other way, We are not there to do the police’s work.’
Volunteers help people into taxis or contact revellers’ families to organise a lift home. A bag of flip-flop comes in handy for women walking bare foot after taking off their painful high heels, to avoid their getting cut on broken glass.
Angela says her son, who is 25, is OK about her patrolling the streets. She blames the slump in the number of volunteers on the anti-social hours with some willing to do the 9pm to 11pm shift but not wanting to work after midnight. Anybody interested in becoming a Street Angels can contact Angela by email at ajsouthern(at)manx.net
ANGELS OF MERCY: The unveiling & blessing of the 'Street Angels', a team of volunteers who patrol the streets and offer help to anyone in need. PHOTO: Mike Wade MW120527