GUARDIAN angels who have helped to protect about 12,000 party-goers and revellers on the streets of Cheltenham are beefing up their ranks.
The Cheltenham Street Pastors, who have been mopping up after weekend drinkers since December 2009, want to put a second Saturday team in place to patrol the streets.
They have handed out flipflops to the barefooted, water to the dehydrated and cleared up discarded drinks bottles to prevent them from being used as weapons.
And a second team on a Saturday night would enable the pastors to get to trouble spots quicker.
Chairman Nigel Bennett, said: “We aim to provide two teams on a Saturday night in 2014, which gives a much faster response time when someone is in need.
“Our role is to help victims of crime or perhaps those who have got separated from friends and feeling vulnerable.
“Cheltenham is the third largest night-time economy in the South West.
“It is about listening, caring and helping people in need.
“We have an area that covers from Montpellier right down to the new cinema complex and the parks.
“If we get called somewhere by CCTV operators, by the time we get there, the person has often disappeared.”
Street Pastors, an initiative of the Ascension Trust, has about 50 trained church members on the streets over the weekend.
Mr Bennett, from Bishop’s Cleeve, was on patrol on Saturday with Mayor of Cheltenham, Wendy Flynn.
The team came across a couple having sex in a doorway and cleared up discarded drinks bottles.
He said: “The people we saw were in pretty good humour. Cheltenham is a fairly safe town, which gets people coming in from outside.
“We get people being ill, being completely drunk.
“It becomes a question of trying to be there and listen to them.
“For the girls, if they are on high heels, they are often walking barefoot by the time we see them. We give them flip flops.
“If it’s cold weather, we have thermal blankets.”
Mr Bennett said his teams have managed to prevent drinkers from getting into strange vehicles, arranged for parents to collect their drunken children or guided revellers to taxis.
“We’ve helped people who have been unable to help themselves,” he said.
Councillor Flynn said: “One of Cheltenham Borough Council's primary objectives is to strengthen our communities and I take that objective and have community as my theme for the mayoral year.
“There is no doubt Cheltenham Street Pastors have brought a dimension to the night time economy and it’s uniquely positive and delivers excellent results.”
To be a street pastor, you must be over 18 and attend a local church. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org