Specially trained volunteers will be out on the streets of Soho this festive season, ensuring Christmas revellers ‘end the night right’. Whether handing out water or helping people get medical attention, the Soho Angels will be doing everything in their power to help people end the night right. They will also be trained to spot those who are most vulnerable – for example, due to being on their own, or being intoxicated.
Westminster City Council and LGBT Foundation are partnering on this new night time safety initiative, proudly supported by Smirnoff. It’s designed to make London’s nightlife a safer space for everyone, and a more inclusive and understanding space for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.
The Angels home base, the Soho Night Hub located at St Anne’s, will offer a safe space for people to rest, recover, get help if they’ve fallen victim to crime, or simply charge their phone. The Hub and Angels are there for anyone who needs help while out at night in Soho, whether they are residents, visitors or tourists.
The pilot formally launches on December 7th, and it will run every Friday through December. With the lessons learned during this time, it’s hoped the scheme will be rolled out every Friday and Saturday from February 2019.
Councillor Ian Adams, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing, said:
“From finding lost belongings, or even a lost friend, the Soho Angels are here to help everyone end the night right. The Angels home base, the Night Hub, will be a safe place to escape the bustle of Soho and sober up, get support, or just have a chat while charging a phone. The Council’s committed to making the city’s nightlife a safe and inclusive place, and we also hope this takes some of the winter pressures off the NHS. Soho is the heart of London’s nightlife, but also the historical centre of London’s LGBT community. The Angels will reflect Soho’s roots and have specific LGBT support and training.”
This new initiative stems from Westminster Council’s Licensing Charter work, and LGBT Foundation’s Village Angels programme, which has become a key fixture of Manchester’s nightlife. A number of partners are helping to deliver the project, including St John Ambulance, Drinkaware, Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and Safer West End.
Founded in 2011, LGBT Foundation’s Village Angels in Manchester have helped nearly 100,000 people and are credited with helping to reduce crime, alleviate pressure on emergency services and ensure thousands of clubbers get home safely. In 2017, LGBT Foundation partnered with the Smirnoff “We’re Open” campaign to begin expanding the Village Angels nationally.
Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation, explains:
“Since 2011, thousands of Village visitors have been helped by the Angels and they regularly carry out life-saving interventions. Unfortunately, we know that people can be targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and that LGBT communities still face discrimination and barriers to accessing support. We recognised the need for similar programmes in other LGBT spaces across the country, and that’s why we’re proud to be working with Westminster City Council and Smirnoff to bring the Soho Angels to the streets of London.“
Smirnoff Marketing Manager, Sarah Shimmons, added:
“This chapter of the Smirnoff We’re Open campaign aims to make nightlife a safer space for LGBTQ+ people. We’re committed to supporting Westminster City Council and LGBT Foundation in creating a much needed service for London, offering help and support to Soho and its LGBTQ+ community to ensure it remains one of the UK’s most inclusive and safe nights out.”
Dan Bevis, St John Ambulance London and South regional operations manager, said:
“It’s important A&E is there for people who need it, especially with our health service facing increasing pressures. We hope the care and assistance our volunteers give will help people get home safely after their night out, and will reduce demand placed on the NHS, too.”
To find out more visit www.endthenightright.org.
Soho Night Hub and Angels Services
- Provide directions and advice about getting home
- Help find or contact friends or family
- Be a person to talk to
- Provide basic first aid
- Offer emotional support to people in crisis
- Provide a safe space to recover
- Help people to report crimes, including hate crimes or incidents, or get medical help
- Signpost to local services and LGBT organisations
- Work with bars and clubs to identify and support vulnerable customers
- Provide water and plastic ponchos to those who need them
- Provide a place to charge your phone
SOURCE LGBT Foundation; Smirnoff