A SQUAD of volunteers boosting safety on the streets who started their work in Halifax have been given a prestigious honour by the Prime Minister.
David Cameron has named the Street Angels as the latest winner of his Big Society Award.
The organisation - which was founded by Paul Blakey in Halifax in 2005 - is one of just handful to have been awarded the prize since it was launched by David Cameron.
He said: “Street Angels shows what can be achieved when communities come together and work hand-in-hand with their local services to make their towns, estates and streets safer places.
“Paul and his army of volunteers embody the principals of Big Society, with people standing up and taking an active role in building the type of community they want to live in – one that looks out for the vulnerable and says no to the drunken, loutish, criminal behaviour that can too often blight communities.
“I’m delighted this approach has been used to tackle the very same issues in other towns and cities, as far away as Australia. It really shows just how important and universal the Big Society message is.”
The Street Angels started with a team in Halifax, helping night-time revellers stay safe.
The project has since blossomed to almost 100 across the whole of Britain and has had interest from as far away as Brazil, Australia and even Africa.
Mr Blakey, who founded the project with other members of Churches Together and was awarded an MBE for because of his involvement, said: “To be awarded the Big Society Award is an amazing accolade for the thousands of volunteers who invest time and skills into over one hundred local areas across the UK week in and week out.
“The fact that in many of these towns and cities violent crime and sexual assaults have reduced significantly and that the night-time economy has become a better place that can be enjoyed by all is proof that volunteering works and can have a massive positive impact.
“As our local projects, motivated by their Christian faith, partner with statutory bodies and others who care about the wider community, we become Big Society in action!
“From a local project meeting needs in Halifax to one that is now at work across the UK and beyond, Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives is thrilled to accept the Big Society Award and thank the Prime Minister for this recognition.”
Street Angels invests around 8,000 volunteering hours into Halifax each year. Their help ranges from assisting offering assistance, ranging from helping elderly people onto public transport to flagging early signs of street violence or disorder to the police and CCTV operators.
Divisional Commander for Calderdale Police Chief Superintendent Chris Hardern said: “By having them working alongside us in helping vulnerable people, including young people who have become detached from their friends after having a little too much drink, means my officers are free to tackle other incidents that require police officers.
“This successful partnership work, alongside Calderdale Council, has led to Halifax town centre being awarded a Purple Flag status for a second year running in recognition of having a safe and thriving night-time economy.
“This policing initiative has shown what can be achieved when we all work together and this award is fitting recognition of that success.”
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. Street Angels are the 33rd to receive the prize.