We were included in this book about the project, written by founder Paul Blakey MBE. Our entry is below and gives you an idea of what the project is all about.
Rev. Rachel Marszalek (co-ordinator Belper Street Angels 2012-2014) writes:
Belper Street Angels launched in June 2012 as an initiative of HOPE in Belper and has had up to seventeen people so far serving the project. Another twelve have contacted us to get started some time in the future. Five of the Angels serve on a management team to organise the project.
The team works in estates and the town alternately so that Angels can choose for their once-monthly round either the 7 pm-11 pm estates round, or the 10 pm until 2 am town round. The volunteers have patrolled the street’s town for more than six hundred hours in the first year. The team members - who range in age from 20 to nearly 70 - have engaged with the youth on Belper’s estates and helped with everything from collecting broken glass to finding an engagement ring.
Volunteer Tony Ward, a retired vicar (and co-ordinator from April 2014), said: “It’s been a successful first year and we have been welcomed by people. A lot of the young people we speak to have nothing to do and few job prospects. However, I’m glad to say there is comparatively very little anti-social behaviour. We spend alternate weeks on the estates and town centre. We’re not the police. We’re here to support people and improve our night-time culture. Much of our help has been in reassuring people, helping them get in taxis home and providing water and flip flops. There is also a lot of litter dropped at the skate-park.”
A lot of the activity on the estates is about building up the relationships with the young people and has included games of football and handing out cake! The team have also provided pastoral support at times of tragedy amongst the young people. It is also good to join the dots between the young people on the streets and in the local high school through ‘The Bless Project,’ a lunch-time initiative at our town's High School, which some of the Angels support.
The town centre team concentrates on those people visiting the pubs and the town's night-club and keeps a lookout in the town more generally, returning shopping trolleys to supermarkets, picking up bottles, handing out flip-flops and water and ensuring people get home safely. In return the team receives lots of hugs and is asked to pose for photos with revellers!
The Street Angels team have helped with stewarding at events like the Christmas Light Switch-On, Belper Fair and the Easter Passion Play. This has helped us become part of the town centre at times other than late evening weekends and means a wider audience has met us and has a better understanding of the work we do.
Good links have been made within the town and Belper Street Angels has support from businesses, the Police, local organisations and the town’s churches. Several town centre businesses give the team free hot drinks and food with the fish and chip shop working with the Street Angels to make sure any homeless people in the town are offered fish and chips.
In the words of one of our volunteers - ‘Belper folk are so friendly - it’s a good place to be!!!’