Following on from our blog about Safe Spaces and the services they provide, we are continuing our series on vulnerability and the different options to help you manage this in the evening and night-time economy (ENTE).
This time, it’s the turn of Street Pastors and Street Angels. This is one of our favourite solutions to enhancing safeguarding in the ENTE, as it brings so many benefits and is excellent value for money.
What are Street Pastors and Street Angels?
Both Street Pastors and Street Angels are Christian voluntary groups. They rely on volunteers mainly, but not solely, from faith communities to work alongside emergency services on a Friday and Saturday night during set hours, usually between 10pm to 4am.
Volunteers go through over 30 hours of training in subjects such as roles and responsibilities, alcohol, drugs, mental health, homelessness, weapons, vulnerability management, counselling and listening and first aid before they are released on the street. Most groups ensure their volunteers are DBS checked and work closely with partners to share anonymised data that helps to build a wider picture of what is happening in the night-time economy.
They reduce vulnerability by giving first aid to those who need it, preventing A&E attendances, caring for people who are intoxicated until they are sober enough to return home, ensuring that they get home safely, giving brief interventions on drugs, alcohol, sexual health and making sure that those they care for don’t become victims of crime.
They also give out supplies like lollipops to reduce noise, flip flops to prevent girls cutting their feet on glass, water to keep people hydrated, pee pouches to stop on-street urination and spikeys to prevent people’s drinks being spiked.
What impact do they have?
There are approximately 450 teams of volunteer Street Pastors, Street Angels and other groups in towns and cities across the UK. On an average Friday and Saturday night in the UK it is estimated that each group helps about 15 people get home safely in a variety of ways. According to NHS Digital it costs an average of £4,296 to treat an intoxicated person in hospital.
Based on data from a core selection of these groups working in large city centres, on average they prevent 80% of those they help from needing A&E, paramedics or police. However, without looking at every incident dealt with, it is hard to determine an exact figure of their worth. Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership did some basic analysis in 2015 that indicated that every £1 invested in Street Pastors saved an average of £121.50 on emergency services.
Their value also lies in the additional uniformed presence on the streets and perhaps one of the most useful, yet underrated services is the volunteers’ ability to set a happy, peaceful and warm tone to nights out. We have seen them calm down fights equipped with just a smile, a hug and a lollipop. In most cities those who use the city’s nightlife love them. Comments such as “we love you”, “you helped my friend” or “you are amazing” fill the air as they walk the streets. This positive tone setting is vitally important and highly undervalued.
Would you like some help setting up or growing a Street Pastors scheme in your town or city? We’d love to help. Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.