More than 1,200 people have been helped by the Soho Angels service in its first year of operation - which includes medical assistance being given in 230 cases, of which 80 were classed as serious incidents.
Run by Westminster City Council and the LGBT Foundation, the Soho Angels, who are recognisable in their pink reflective vests, provide support to anyone who needs it during a night out in the West End. From finding lost belongings or friends through to facilitating medical attention, the Soho Angels are there to help party-goers get home safely. The Angels, who now have more than 60 volunteers with a further 25 being trained, have also reported more than 40 crimes in their first year.
Operating on a Friday and Saturday evening, the Soho Angels work in partnership with St John Ambulance volunteers to provide medical assistance at a night hub in Dean Street with the aim of preventing unnecessary 999 calls and trips to A&E. On average an ambulance call-out costs the NHS around £250. This December, St John Ambulance has expanded its support with up to ten volunteers at the night-hub where capacity has been increased to up to eight beds. The volunteers include Health Care Practitioners such as doctors, Emergency Department Nurses and Paramedics.
This means during December, St John Ambulance volunteers will also be able attend appropriate calls made to London Ambulance Service (LAS) within a designated area of Soho and the West End. LAS crews will also have the option to drop patients at Soho Angels night-hub - this may include people who are intoxicated or who have minor injuries or ailments, and who don’t need hospital treatment.
Cllr Ian Adams Westminster City Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing said: “In just a year, the Soho Angels have become a feature of West End nightlife, helping more than 1,200 people to enjoy their evening out and get home safely.
“As well as reducing the number of unnecessary 999 calls, the Soho Angels also work to ensure Westminster’s nightlife remains a safe, inclusive and understanding space for everyone.”
Peter Hollely, registered nurse and lead St John Ambulance volunteer for the project, said: “We have helped so many people in Soho to ‘end the night right’, since the scheme launched a year ago. They have received the right care, at the right time, and have been appropriately referred to other services, or have gone home.
“By expanding our support to the Soho Angels in the run up to Christmas and by working together with the NHS, we hope to relieve pressure on our stretched emergency services, allowing them to be there for those most critical patients.”
Supported by Smirnoff, the Soho Angels have specific training in LGBT inclusion and support, and receive in-depth training from Drinkaware, LGBT Foundation and St John Ambulance. Each ‘Angel’ must complete their training and be vetted before they can go out on the street. Other partners for the project are the Metropolitan Police and the Safer WestEnd Business Partnership.
Click here to find out more about Soho Angels including how to volunteer: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/endthenightright
St John Ambulance is the charity that steps forward in the moments that matter to save lives and support communities. Its highly trained volunteers keep people safe at events nationwide, springing into action to help with medical incidents and emergencies. The organisation also helps the NHS by responding to some 999 calls, as well as transporting patients safely. And every year around 500,000 people, including children and young people, learn how to save a life through its first aid training. St John Ambulance has saved lives and relieved suffering for over 140 years, and – with the public’s support – will do so for decades to come.