Friday, 22 January 2010

Heavenly New Initiative in Camberley

Heavenly News from Camberley
During Christian Unity Week Churches Together in Camberley and some 300 guests and local dignitaries welcomed the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton to the borough last Sunday to celebrate the launch of a 'heavenly' new community safety initiative.

The Camberley Street Angels scheme, set up by Churches Together in Camberley including the Catholic parish of Camberley and Bagshot with support from the Safer Surrey Heath Partnership, will see groups of volunteers out and about in the town centre on Fridays between 10pm and 3am offering a calming presence and practical support to people in need.

Wearing distinctive jackets, Street Angels carry items to assist anyone who may be having a problem. Among practical things such as plasters for blisters, foil blankets for the lightly dressed facing a long walk home in the wet, and flip flops for girls with sore feet, they will also have lollipops which can be popular with revellers. Volunteers are happy to spend time talking with people and are able to advise of specialist agencies who can provide ongoing assistance if required. Street Angels work with the support of, and in partnership with, other agencies working in the town centre at night and have connecting links by radio with each other, the team base, CCTV and the police.

The launch celebrations, hosted by the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Cllr Craig Fennell, at High Cross Church, Knoll Road, included a commissioning service for Camberley's 29 Street Angel volunteers, conducted by Bishop Kieran Conry. Among the volunteers was Steve Isherwood, Camberley Street Angels Co-ordinator; who said: "I have lived in the Camberley area for much of the last 20 years and retired from the Army last year. I am an active member of St Paul's Church and a supporter of local churches' practical involvement in the community. When the appeal for Street Angel volunteers was made one Sunday morning at church I felt it was a God given opportunity for me to use my time to benefit others.

"The comprehensive training our volunteers have received on such things as personal safety, safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, drugs and alcohol awareness and so on has been professionally delivered and has equipped us to deal with most eventualities we are likely to meet. My hope is that the scheme will be seen by all as a positive and beneficial thing, making our contribution to people enjoying a good night out safely. If all goes well, we hope to recruit more volunteers in due course and expand Street Angels work to include Saturday nights as well."

Commenting on behalf of the Safer Surrey Heath Partnership, Inspector James Norbury said: "Street Angels is a fantastic way of enabling people who care about others to do just that. Working alongside officers from our neighbourhood policing team, Street Angels have the ability to make a positive impact on antisocial behaviour in Camberley town centre. For instance, the Angels will take care of intoxicated people who police officers might otherwise have to look after - freeing us to deal with more serious offences."

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