A new nighttime safety initiative, supported by Smirnoff and organised by LGBT Foundation and Westminster City Council, is to launch in Soho to ensure Christmas revellers have a safe night partying.
Already a success in Manchester with the ‘Village Angels’ initiative, the ‘Soho Angels’ will be helping people end the night right and will receive training to spot signs of vulnerable people. The initiative is designed to make London’s nightlife a safer space for everyone, and a more inclusive and understanding space for LGBTQ+ 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.
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.
A number of partners are helping to deliver the project, including St John Ambulance, Drinkaware, Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service and Safer West End.
This new initiative stems from Westminster Council’s Licensing Charter work, and the experiences learnt from the ‘Village Angels’ programme in Manchester. 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.
The pilot launched on Friday and will continue to run every Friday throughout December. Following the trial run, the scheme is hoped to be rolled out every Friday and Saturday from February 2019.