Paul and Jean joined around 160 volunteers from 18 night-time projects at the Sharing Hope In Night-time Economy Conference in Guildford on Saturday, 22nd June.
The event aimed to bring together night-time initiatives such as Street Angels, Street Pastors and similar to network and develop the work they do within the region.
The day started with coffee before Andrew Wheeler, vicar at St Saviour's in Guildford and Street Angel, welcomed those from the 18 represented projects.
Paul Blakey then shared about the work of Street Angels - CNI Network. He started by sharing that the heart and vision of what is happening within the night-time economy is "God's Kingdom come, God's will be done, on earth as in heaven" and that as we patrol the streets and impact communities and individuals God's Kingdom is increasingly being established as reality. Paul then shared stories and development within the network including Club Angels, Street Angels Majorca, Youth Angels and Love Your Streets.
Next up was Chief Constable of Surrey Police, Lynne Owens. Lynne started by thanking the volunteers saying they were modern day Good Samaritans who help keep people safe. The work of the Police and the links that are and could be developed in terms of recent and ongoing cuts in the Police budget was spoken about and Lynne shared how the work of and support from volunteer groups such as Street Angels meant an awful lot to Police officers and is needed now more than ever.
Lynne and Paul then joined Debra Green, founder of Redeeming Our Communities, for a question and answer session with a wide range of topics covered including sexual grooming, helping the night-time economy move from binge to better, young people and alcohol, the need for person led approach and the openness we have as volunteers to offer prayer for people on the streets.
After a lunch with conversations to help develop the thoughts from the morning Debra Green spoke about the work of ROC. Again lots of exciting stories about community and person transformation were shared through projects such as ROC Cafe, ROC Conversations, ROC Advice and ROC Bus. Debra commented that to 'identify the need then find the solution is all you need for social action' and ROC is showing how this can work across the UK.
The day was an excellent time of networking, linking between projects in the region and hearing of ways God is opening the doors time and time again to impact people and communities even more.