You could forgive angels for taking flight from some of the sights, sounds and smells on the boozed up Blackpool streets made infamous by the 999: What’s Your Emergency TV series filmed in the resort some years ago.
But Blackpool and the Fylde Street Angels don’t fear to tread one of Britain’s busiest town centre night time economy beats. Intrepid volunteers have won their wings the hard way on patrol Friday and Saturday nights from 9pm to 3am.
Teams of three patrol the zone fringed by the Prom, Springfield Road, Topping Street, Church Street, Central Drive, and New Bonny Street.
Others stay with the mini bus and provide hot drinks and a safe haven to revellers in need of such.
They offer care and practical help, dispose of glass bottles and glasses, hand out water and flip flops, even give first aid.
And they ensure those deemed vulnerable or in need are referred to other agencies or guided to the night safe haven bus.
The project has come a long way since its official launch in summer 2012, the year after the pilot began.
Blackpool’s own Angels come under the wings of Christian Nightlife Initiatives (CNI) set up in 2008 as an umbrella organisation for the growing number of Street Angels, Town Pastors, Street Chaplains and other volunteers in over 120 communities across the UK and Europe within the night time economy.
In October 2012, BFSA was officially recognised as a local branch of CNI. Volunteers, who don’t have to be Christian, support the ethos and values, abide by high ethical and legal standards, collaborate with voluntary and statutory agencies as well as the emergency services, and offer help on a non-judgemental and inclusive basis.
But now Street Angels project leader Paul Rawson has another feather in his cap- the administrative team now works out of the hot desk hub at Jubilee House, Lytham, and the impressive headquarters of Danbro Accounting.
“This will enable us to take BFSA to another level,” Paul admits. “It was our third birthday in summer and we have around 16 volunteers we can call upon – and tend to deploy 10 dedicated volunteers on the streets. We use the Comfort Zone as our base at North Shore Methodist Church on Dickson Road but I’d like to recruit more Street Angels and “I would like more. Previously I worked from home but now I feel I really am going to work. It helps me get stuck into the admin stuff and applications for funding and such like.
“Using the co-worker facilities within Jubilee House raises the benchmark and we have full use of facilities here and somewhere we can bring visitors.
“If anything I’m surprised there are still units available. Ultimately, I would love to move into one of the offices.”
Paul has known Helen and Damian Broughton, founders of Danbro, for many years, having met them at the neighbouring church – which is where they got married ahead of founding the company in 1999.
“We share the same ethos –- they really are good Samaritans. It’s thanks to Danbro that we were able to buy a second hand bus and kit it out as our base while in the town centre.”
Fellow Street Angel Sarah Williams, 20 (pictured with Paul) also feels proud of their new HQ on the edge of Lytham Green.
“It’s so lovely here and couldn’t be more different to what we see in Blackpool – and yet it really helps us do that job too. I love being able to help people. We pray before we go on the streets but we’re not out there evangelising or bible bashing but trying to keep people safe. Blackpool’s no worse than any other town or city but it was given a bad press on telly. We walk about five miles at night although some of the changes to venues have reduced the area covered or changed the route. We look out for anyone who’s at risk whether that’s through drink or other factors. They are at risk of falls or accidents or fights or worse. You get a bit of verbal abuse but 99 per cent of the people we meet are happy to see us there. It makes them feel safer to know the Street Angels are watching over them.”
Helen Broughton, director of people and standards at Danbro, concludes: “It was always our hope that we could help others and try to put something back into the community. The hot desk and office area is ideal for charities, and social enterprises, community interest concerns, and start-ups.”
· Blackpool and Fylde Street Angels are a registered charity reliant totally on donations and voluntary help. You can contact them by ‘liking’ them on facebook.com/BFStreetAngels or following them on Twitter @BF_StreetAngels or via the website www.bfstreetangels.org. Or call 07964 202 525.
· To inquire about Danbro’s co-worker hot desk hub and office suite email Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org