A new mission for the town’s team of angels

Rev Graeme Parkins, left, co-ordinator of the new Community Angels scheme and Dan Abell, co-ordinator of the Youth Angels, at The Summit headquarters in St Nicholas Street.
Rev Graeme Parkins, left, co-ordinator of the new Community Angels scheme and Dan Abell, co-ordinator of the Youth Angels, at The Summit headquarters in St Nicholas Street.

They are the angels of the north, patrolling the streets of Scarborough in a bid to keep revellers out of trouble on Friday and Saturday nights.

Now, they are preparing to launch a new mission in the town in a bid to help some of the community’s most vulnerable.

Community Angels will see volunteers befriend Castle ward residents who are in need of support and help point them towards local support groups and facilities.

The church-led initiative, which is being supported by organisations in the ward, is being launched this summer on the back of the major success of the Street Angels and Youth Angels.

Rev Graeme Parkins, former minister of the Scarborough Christian Fellowship in Castle Road, who is co-ordinating the launch, said: “The idea was to continue the ethos and main principles of the Street and Youth Angels. It’s about trying to bring a sense of community. It is the church on the street making a difference.

“Community Angels will support Castle ward residents, but especially people that are vulnerable. We just want to help in any way we can. We especially want to support people suffering from low self esteem irrespective of their age, to build personal confidence and hope for the future.”

In addidion to council provisions, the project aims to encourage residents to utilise the existing facilities available in the area, such as the Rainbow Centre’s Debt Advice, Pregnancy Crisis and the new food bank.

Volunteers will have 10 weeks training, before venturing out into the community to offer friendship and support.

Rev Parkins, who has been in church pastoral leadership in central Scarborough for more than 20 years, said: “There are some people that don’t actually use the available resources that are there. We are discovering residents who are just coming into awareness of what the Oasis and Rainbow centres do and really there are so many really good associations, groups which they could get involved with.”

If an individual or family feels it would be helpful, the Community Angels will assist with making appointments with local services and even accompany people along to their first enquiry session.

“It can also include things like helping elderly people with their shopping,” explained Rev Parkins. “Sometimes older folk are a bit reserved when it come to accepting what they might describe as charity. It is to help them overcome these things and help them to get the very best support and link up with other people. We live in an age where people are very suspicous of other people and hopefully this will bring a sense of community and build friendships.”

The scheme is linked with the Eden Network, which is a national church project set up to help transform deprived neighbourhoods.

Rev Parkins said: “They are supporting us with training and with ongoing professional development so what we present is the very best and the most effective.”

If the project is successful, it is hoped it will eventually be rolled out to other areas of the town.

“It will be nice to get this one off the ground running. It might well be that we can expand across other wards, but we want to walk before we can run,” he added.

Backing the scheme, chairman of the Castle Ward Tenants and Residents Association, Cllr Janet Jefferson said: “I think it’s an excellent project and I have supported it all the way. It’s going to be of benefit to an awful lot of people.”

The Street Angels scheme has been operating sucessfully in Scarborough since 2008.

It was started by Kingdom Faith Church leaders Paul Abell and Brian Ward, in conjunction with Churches Together, Scarborough Council and North Yorkshire Police.

The team of more than 55 volunteers, who patrol the town centre late at night on a weekend, are based at The Summit, between Barbican and Blue Lounge in St Nicholas Street.

Aiming to improve the safety of those enjoying a night out, the angels are always on the lookout for those who may be vulnerable or in difficulty, such as people who have drunk too much and may have become separated from friends. Their work can also involve anything from trying to diffuse arguments before they become serious, to providing plasters and flip-flops to women whose high heels are causing them pain.

Street crime and anti-social behaviour has been dramatically slashed since the scheme was launched, and in 2011 a Youth Angels team was set up for under 18s who wanted to make a difference.

The overall initiative has been so successful that discussions are now under way to extend the service into the daytime hours.

Rev Parkins said: “Street Angels and Youth Angels are really making a difference in their respective areas. I would hope to make a similar kind of difference in the Castle ward with Community Angels.”

For more information on the Community Angels, write to The Summit, St Nicholas Street, Scarborough, YO11 2HF, or email Rev Parkins at commangels@gmail.com

Fact file

More than 20 volunteers, who will live within the Castle ward community and be mostly church members, are set to be recruited in the initial phase.

Candidates, who must be aged 18 or over, will be interviewed and will undergo reference and CRB checks, before being given specialist training.

Links with the community and the angels will mostly be made through referrals from organisations such as the Housing Association and the Kingdom Faith Church. They angels will also network with the Castle Ward Tennants and Residents Association and with other groups that serve the area.

Revd Graeme Parkins is being supported by a primary organising group consisting of Rev Martyn Dunning (St.Mary’s with Holy Apostles), Rev Paul Abell (Kingdom Faith Church), Rev Geoff Bowell (current Minister of Scarborough Christian Fellowship), former police Inspector Tony Quinn and Trish Kinsella of the Rainbow Centre.

Chris Brogan from Scarborough Council is supporting the community planning elements of the new project and it is hoped that other churches and organisations in the ward will join in.

Volunteers will patrol the streets of Barrowcliff

The success of the ‘Angels’ schemes in Scarborough have sparked another church-led initiative in Barrowcliff.

Volunteers are currenly being recruited for a project, supported by the council, police and youth service, which will see a regular team patrol the estate to help build community confidence. More information will be available at a meeting at Gallows Close Centre at 7pm on Wednesday.