Natalie and Matthew from Boro Angels
Like most students, you will find 20-year-old’s Matthew Harper and Natalie Hepworth out in Middlesbrough Town Centre on a Saturday night. But unlike others their experience is much different as they don their high-visibility jackets to become volunteer Boro Angels.
Boro Angels, or ‘street pastors’, are people of all ages and walks of life who patrol the streets of the town between 10pm and 3am. Regular revelers know them as the ‘flip-flops and lollipops people’, but they are much more than that - offering minor medical assistance, working with people who are sleeping rough, or providing aid to people in need of bottled water.
Their aim is to provide a caring presence and increasing sense of safety amongst those out in the town.
Matthew, who originates from Retford, knew he always wanted to be a volunteer, he said: “I chose to become a Boro Angel because it’s an amazing experience being able to help people. You go home feeling terrific knowing you’ve done your part and as a student it’s an added bonus that I can volunteer on a night.
“A typical Saturday night starts with us meeting at headquarters for 10pm. We catch up and then proceed to replenish the bags with foil blankets, bottles of water, flip-flops, coffee/soup packets and a flask of hot water. We also make sure the First Aid bags have all the necessary equipment. We then grab our high-visibility jackets and then proceed to pack our pockets with Boro Angels contact cards, lollipops and medical gloves. We have a moment of prayer to begin the night, and then sign in to CCTV”.
Natalie, who is from Derby, but like Matthew studies in Middlesbrough, added: “Volunteering with the Boro Angels is a satisfying experience because you get to help people who need it, while at the same time gaining skills and knowledge, and the opportunity to meet a variety of people.
“Anyone thinking of getting involved in volunteering definitely should because it is an amazing and rewarding experience. You will gain a lot from taking part, including the opportunity and ability to help people and receiving training provided by the Boro Angels and Cleveland Police”.
Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Having recently spent an evening with Boro Angels I have seen first-hand the excellent work the volunteers do in making Middleborough a safer place to be.
“Their commitment and compassion to the role is endearing and I would encourage anyone interested in finding out more about this role, or any other volunteering opportunities to come along to the Criminal Justice Volunteer Fair on 4 November 2014”.
Boro Angels will be attending the Cleveland Criminal Justice Volunteer Fair on Tuesday 4 November 2014 in the Clarendon Building at Teesside University between 10am and 3pm.
The volunteer fair will promote a vast amount of volunteering opportunities and is a unique chance for local people to find out how they can get involved. More information can be found on www.volunteerforcleveland.co.uk or by contacting 01642 301208.
Posted on Friday 31st October 2014