Street Angels to patrol the town

NBEN 12-06-12 BE 1 Belper Street angels, Gareth Greenwood chair hope for Belper, Rev Rachel Marszalek, Gill Pullman and Julie Degg.
NBEN 12-06-12 BE 1 Belper Street angels, Gareth Greenwood chair hope for Belper, Rev Rachel Marszalek, Gill Pullman and Julie Degg.

A dedicated team of “street angels” are aiming to make Belper a safer place – tackling the town’s drugs and drink problems head-on.

The 19 Christian volunteers will be targeting areas where youths gather late at night – offering support to police and other emergency services during weekends when drunken partying can sometimes get out of control.

NBEN 12-06-12 BE 2 Belper Street angels, Gareth Greenwood chair hope for Belper, Rev Rachel Marszalek, Gill Pullman and Julie Degg.

NBEN 12-06-12 BE 2 Belper Street angels, Gareth Greenwood chair hope for Belper, Rev Rachel Marszalek, Gill Pullman and Julie Degg.

They will also be looking after binge-drinkers in the town providing everything from flip-flops to women who have lost their shoes, to “ conflict resolution” and a shoulder to cry on for people who are emotionally distressed.

The scheme has worked well in around 70 other regions of the UK since being set-up in 2005. Among the areas where they intend to concentrate resources are River Gardens, Gregory’s Way and the town centre.

Luke Norman, from Street Angels Belper, said: “We’re not the police and were most certainly not vigilante’s. We’re here to support people and improve our night-time culture.

“Working alongside the police, we are trained to be a visible presence amongst the nightlife that congregates on the streets and estates on a weekend evening.

NBEN 12-06-12 BE 3 Belper Street angels, Gill Pullman, Gareth Greenwood chair hope for belper, Rev Rachel Marszalek and Julie Degg.

NBEN 12-06-12 BE 3 Belper Street angels, Gill Pullman, Gareth Greenwood chair hope for belper, Rev Rachel Marszalek and Julie Degg.

“The idea is that teams of two or three will walk agreed areas in Belper’s estates and town centre between 8pm and 12pm every Friday night, with a focus on the needs of young people.”

Teenagers as young as 13 or 14 who gather at night on the town’s estates have already been spoken to by volunteers.

Sgt Neil Glover, of Belper Police, said: “If any trends come to light then we will look at our resourcing. Anything that prevents anti-social behaviour is to be welcomed.”

The group will launch officially on June 22 at St John’s Chapel at 7pm. It is hoped Paul Blakey MBE, who founded the Street Angels network will attend.

Anyone interested in being a street angel should email belperstreetangelvolunteers@rocketmail.com.