The work of Guildford’s volunteer Street Angels and Community Angels was recognised at an event that also welcomed 32 new members to the team.
The Revd Noelle Coe, the Guildford town chaplain, led the annual commissioning service, held at Christ Church in Waterden Road on November 3.
Guests included the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More Molyneux, and his wife Sarah; the Mayor of Guildford, Richard Billington; patron Lady Elizabeth Toulson; and David Munro, Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner; together with representatives from a range of organisations, supporters and friends.
There are 140 much-loved ‘Angelic’ volunteers who play a part in projects run by Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy which was established in 2008 by local churches.
The charity runs the Street Angels project, which has now helped some 60,000 people, providing a calming presence on the town’s streets, between 10.30pm and 4am, every Friday and Saturday night.
A much newer project, Community Angels, befriends and reconnects isolated people across the town during the day, and the volunteer chaplains provide an independent listening ear within the workplace, including giving support to the Guildford police and fire stations.
The Revd Coe said: “My first year in post as town chaplain has been rewarding, varied and extremely busy.
“I have had the privilege of working alongside so many committed individuals who serve the people of our town.
“Our annual service has again provided a fabulous opportunity to thank our amazing volunteers, acknowledging their selfless giving of time and compassion to the vulnerable in our town.
“I am so proud to have had opportunities to contribute to making Guildford a safer and more caring place for those who work, rest or play here.
“I am looking forward to continuing our work in 2020, collaborating with other church, civic and community organisations.
“Working in partnership with others, our Angels remain committed to supporting the community of Guildford by tackling social isolation and vulnerable people within it, in a non-judgemental way.
“We have seen huge demand for home visits from our Community Angels over the last year, reflecting an increase of feelings of insecurity in people of all ages.
“Our volunteer angels seek to reassure and re-engage people with their community, to enable them to live a full life.
“We are continually recruiting new volunteers and invite people to find out more about how they can serve and support their neighbours.”
The Revd Jo Trickey, curate at Christ Church, spoke at the service on the parable of the Lost Sheep, focusing on the part that individuals can play in looking after those in need.
The Mayor of Guildford and PC Victoria Detomaso, from Surrey Police, expressed heartfelt appreciation of the work of the volunteers on behalf of the wider community.
The service also provided an opportunity to thank organisations who have become Chaplaincy Community Partners, by granting much needed financial support to the work of the Angels.
New collaborations have recently been announced with the University of Surrey, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioners, the Community Foundation for Surrey and Surrey County Council.
With no statutory funding, the chaplaincy is funded purely by voluntary donations, the majority is given by Guildford churches of all denominations.
Anyone wishing to find out more about how they can support the work of the Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy can find details on its website.