I have always felt that there was and is a need for street helpers in Soho, so imagine my surprise when I received an email about Soho Angels.
The email came via an LGBTI+ group that I belong to. I filled in the application and at the time I thought I may be too old for the angels (I’m a 66 year old gay man), but was assured that I was not, and that the experience that I could bring would be welcome. The process was painless and quite quick. I was invited to a one-day training course in Central London and met some other great people. The trainers were very good, and the training opened my eyes to the need of the night-time community and how we can help. After that day I was ready to get my angel wings, hoping they would be rainbow ones, but alas there were no wings to be seen. I was assured that on my first shift I would receive the Soho Angels uniform.
Fast forward to my first shift. I’d signed up by email for 2 or 3 shifts, on Friday nights from 10pm to 5am. In trepidation, I made my way to St Anne’s Soho, the hub for Soho Angles, ready to receive, or to earn, my wings (I’m an ex RAF man).
There were about 12 of us plus St John Ambulance, my uniform was given to me (alas no rainbow wings), but a nice warm hoodie and a bright pink high vis jacket. It was a lovely surprise that the volunteers were a mixture of ages, gender, ethnicity, just one great mix of people who wanted to help their fellow humans without any judgement.
I could go into the first night, but suffice to say we were busy and the welcome we got from the bars, clubs and door staff as well as the punters, was fantastic. The work that we were doing was and is needed. I would recommend it to anyone, whatever their age. Yes, it is tiring. I walked over 10km that night (one way to keep fit), and got home at 05:45 knackered and ready for bed. No angel wings but maybe a halo, at least that’s what people said to me - you are an angel.
So, become an angel in Soho, hard work and fabulous people!