1995 - Nightlight in Belfast, Northern Ireland was started 2000 - Street Chaplains in Dundee, Scotland was started 2000 - Church for the Night in Bournemouth was started 2002 - Hereford Night Shift was started 2003 - The Living Room in Tenerife was started 2004 - Aldershot Town Centre Pastoral Team was started 2004 - V Festival Pastors in Staffordshire was started
Street Angels 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 founders Paul and Jean Blakey about Street Angels. In July 2006 Watford Street Angels was launched with Harrogate Town Pastors, Wakefield Street Angels, Manchester Street Angels, Keighley NightShift and Todmorden Youth Caravan all looking at the Halifax model and starting up by the end of 2006. BBC Look North featured our work as violent crime was reduced by 42% in Halifax town centre:
By the end of 2007 twenty six 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. Speakers included Malcolm Duncan from FaithWorks and Debra Green from Redeeming Our Communities along with Halifax Police, Town Centre Management, Local Authority and presentations from projects across the UK. Street Angels became the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Winners of the Home Office Tilley Award where our work, alongside the Halifax Ambassadors, had received recognition. The number of UK projects numbered thirty six by the end of 2008 and we had contact with a further twenty nine more interested towns and cities from across the UK and around the world.
A further fourteen 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.
Links were made in 2010 with NightLight Northern Ireland (set up in Belfast in 1995 as a response to needs in the night-time economy) and Street Chaplains, Dundee launched in 2000. Both these initiatives have become part of CNI Network. We also held our second conference, this time in Bedford, with speakers including Steve Clifford from Evangelical Alliance and Andy Turner from the Church Urban Fund. There were now sixty two projects linked within CNI Network. Founder Paul Blakey received a MBE in the New Years Honours - this 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.
In 2011 we focussed the work of CNI Network around five strands:
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 - helping tell our stories and celebrating all that is happening;
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. In August 2011 we held a reception at the Houses of Parliament with over 100 guests from local projects and partners. Twenty one new projects were launched bringing the total within the CNI Network family to eight three including supporting Street Chaplains in Townsville, Australia. We also produced a short video (see below) that helped tell the Street Angels and CNI Network story.
In 2012 with ninety three local projects operating , Street Angels - CNI Network was awarded the Big Society Award. Presented by the Prime Minister it is a testimony to the great work carried out week in and week out. In Summer Paul stepped back from the project manager of Halifax Street Angels to head up the national work full time. CNI Network was heavily involved in More Than Gold and helped run the Games Pastors strand as well as an outreach trailer across London around the Olympics.
In 2013 at our third conference we launched an eBook which tells our amazing story and has since published as a book book. Over the weekend were workshops on a wide variety of issues around areas of need we see in the night-time economy including human trafficking, potential terrorist attacks and pornography. At the heart of CNI Network is to develop fresh expressions of work within the night-time economy and to support and resource new ideas from local projects - so Club Angels (working inside club venues), Festival Angels (working at major UK music festivals) and Youth Angels, all ideas from local projects, were replicated nationally and promoted at our National Conference. We also started a work in Magaluf (a project which is playing a major role in the regeneration of the Spanish holiday resort) and has featured extensively on TV, radio and newspapers worldwide. A further fifteen projects were launched totalling one hundred and eight within CNI Network.
January 2014 saw Bedford Street Angels feature on BBC 1's Songs of Praise with Diane-Louise Jordan interviewing Fred and Fran Gill and joining them on patrol. Later in the year BBC 1's Street Patrol featured Croydon Club Angels. Our 'Volunteers are Amazing - Thank You' booklets and 2015:10 (a year to celebrate 20 years of work in Northern Ireland, 15 years of work in Scotland and 10 years of work in England) were launched at an Afternoon Tea Reception at Lambeth Palace attended by guests from the Home Office, Cabinet Office, Police, Church, local projects and friends across the UK (see the pictures). Twelve new projects were started in 2014 totalling one hundred and twenty.
2015 was a year of celebration! Paul and Jean visited many local projects and thanked volunteers. A report showed that alcohol related violence and alcohol related A&E admissions are reducing year on year in the UK shows that we have played a part in helping change a culture in the UK.
Festival Network was set-up to support and promote work at music festivals and sporting events. BBC's Newsnight programme featured the work of Street Angels in Magaluf (see right). Croydon Club Angels was featured in the Financial Times magazine and Watford Street Angels featured in The Times. Premier Christianity magazine ran an article which included our work. A National Conference saw people from over 30 local projects gather at The Fuse in Manchester. By the end of 2015 CNI Network was a family of one hundred and twenty seven local projects.
2016 sees CNI Network continue to develop with involvement in running the Welfare Tent at Big Church Day Out and developing awareness raising resources for our volunteers. We held our first CNI Network Sunday with the theme 'Making city streets like new again'. Working with ROC and Christian Police Association we launched #FaithAndPoliceTogether in September which aims to be a collaboration of faith based projects working alongside the Police on Policing Priorities. CNI have also partnered with Word4Weapons following a media interview around knife crime to set up #TalkKnives. Northallerton Street Angels launched (requested by the North Yorkshire Police) and we connected with Beach Mission working in Lloret de Mar and Blanes Spain. In December it was announced that our founder Paul was to become a voluntary assessor for The Queens Award for Volunteering Services. This is part of CNI Network's commitment to the wider volunteering community. CNI was part of the first #UKCharityWeek. Christmas saw the Manchester Street Angels featured on BBC 1's City Christmas and national media feature our #StaySafe campaign.
In April Paul and Jean travelled to North Caroline, USA and shared the CNI Network story at 8 events and with church leaders and local radio. This will lead to the forming of our first projects in the USA with Downtown Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach looking to launch Street Angels late summer. We also continue with UK development and several new projects are planned including Festival Angels at Boardmasters Festival in Cornwall. With several changes within the trustee board we used the opportunity to have a new logo (below) and tagline - #MakingCityStreetsLikeNewAgain. In June BBC 1's Songs of Praise visited our Magaluf Street Angels project (see below) and Paul and Jean attended Dinner4Dads to honour and award Fred Gill from Bedford Street Angels. Steve Brock (CNI Trustee) and Andy Fox (Stockton Town Pastor volunteer) did a 234 mile cycle ride for CNI visiting 15 local projects in the North East of England. We held a conference in Middlesbrough Football Stadium with around fifty people receiving training and celebrating the amazing work locally. Over summer the work at music festivals grew and CNI Network headed up a detached team at Boardmasters in Newquay as well as supported Tunes in the Dunes. Scripture Union sponsored the printing of Jesus Loves Clubbers Mark's Gospels which will be given to those we meet who want to know more about the Christian dynamic of our work. At Christmas Leeds Street Angels featured in the Sunday People and our SafeNightOut.party campaign was on various BBC local radio stations, BBC Radio Five Live and several national newspapers and magazines.
The Sun newspaper featured our #Do1NiceThing campaign as part of a feature on Lent. Conference events took place in Bedford, Lurgan (Northern Ireland), Leeds and Reading with around 250 volunteers attending. CNI Network thanked and celebrated the work of volunteers and offered ideas and training. A talk at the Diocese of Leeds Mother's Union annual gathering saw hundreds of pairs of flip-flops donated which have then been donated to local projects to equip them to help young ladies in need. #FaithAndPoliceTogether was launched at a reception hosted by MP Holly Lynch at Houses of Parliament - in September Norfolk Police seconded Police Officer Marie Reavey to #FaithAndPoliceTogether. Summer saw CNI Network supporting work at even more festivals with Big Church Day Out, Tunes in the Dunes, Kendal Calling, Boardmasters (where we were prayed for by Meghan from Wildwood Kin at nearby CreationFest), Leeds Festival, Looe Saves The Day and Mint Festival.
The vision of CNI Network is "supporting projects supporting people" and we aim to continue to do that through existing and new projects worldwide for many years to come!