Since starting to write the blog, I’ve been lucky enough to discover a whole range of fabulous services and not just the customer service variety. What makes this even more impressive is that people give their time so willingly and selflessly to help others and sometimes even at their own personal expense. When I heard about the fabulous Night Time Economy safeguarding work carried out by the Cheltenham Guardians, I immediately arranged a date with the Guardians Chief himself, Terry Howard, to find out more!
What is Night Time Economy?
Night Time Economy (NTE) is the economic activity, which is carried out between the hours of 6pm and 6am and in order to support councils in managing a thriving NTE, there is a need for further support to protect those who are vulnerable and to curb antisocial behaviour and alcohol fueled violence. In Cheltenham, this invaluable assistance comes in the form of Street Pastors and the Cheltenham Guardians who work alongside the emergency services to provide effective NTE safeguarding.
How did the idea of Cheltenham Guardians come about?
Terry explained that the concept was originally born on a cold afternoon in Montpellier Gardens in November 2014. The Guardians chief had always wanted to do something for the community but up until that point, had never had the outlet to do so. With an increasing awareness of the reality of the homelessness situation in Cheltenham, came a developed understanding of the vulnerability of those out at night. Whilst on the streets supporting those in real need, Terry became increasingly aware of situations, which required intervention so began to immerse himself into the concept of Night Time Economy.
What are the aims of the Cheltenham Guardians?
Primarily the core mission of the Guardians is to enforce the safeguarding India Protocol, an initiative that was set up in memory of a young woman, India Eve Chipchase from Northampton who was raped and murdered in 2016. The presence of similar intervention protocols at the time could have resulted in a very different outcome. Every Saturday evening, the Guardians are out on the streets looking out for the safety and security of the young and vulnerable and if they become concerned about a particular situation, they approach, ascertain and assist.
The Guardians would like to see the India Protocol implemented in every county as it has been proved to be responsible for reducing the risk of harm on a Saturday night.
How many people are in the team?
Roecognisable by their liveried vehicle and distinctive black and orange uniform, there are 14 Guardians in the predominantly female strong team working in shifts of four. Shifts start at 10pm and end at 7am although the Guardians do not rest until any issue they have dealt with during the night has been seen through to the end- whatever and whenever that may be.
What kind of situation do you come across on a typical night’s shift?
The Guardians are first responders to a whole variety of situations with no one night being ever the same. An average of 3/10 contacts on any one evening warrants Guardian interaction and intervention. Incidents can range from simple sign posting or low-level assistance to serious emergency safeguarding events.
What training is undertaken by the Guardians?
Guardians have basic first aid training and in an emergency situation, they have direct links to venues, CCTV network, street pastors and the emergency services. Through work with the College of Policing and the Hollie Gazzard Trust, the Guardians are working on developing their own safeguarding training system with a view to future official accreditation.
How is the service funded?
The Cheltenham Guardians is a member-funded organisation and receives no taxpayer related subsidies. Essentially it’s an unincorporated association i.e. an organization that does charitable work as opposed to a charity. Amazingly all Guardians have everyday jobs of their own but freely give their time and money to help others. I asked why this was and Terry’s answer was simply, “Because we can, and it’s needed.”
How can you support the Cheltenham Guardians?
You can best support the award winning Cheltenham Guardians Emergency and Response Team (CERT) by following them on social media and in order to ensure that they have enough equipment to carry on with the fabulous work they do, you can purchase from their Amazon wish list.
The work of the Guardians has such a positive effect on NTE and I was really amazed to discover how comprehensive NTE is in crime prevention detection and how we, as Joe Public, are blissfully unaware of the extent of the levels of care above, below and all around us if needed. I’ll certainly sleep better knowing this! How about you?
The exciting news is that I have accepted the invitation to join the Guardians on a mission out and about on the streets of Cheltenham very soon. I hope they have a uniform small enough and that I can actually survive a night out of bed when I’m usually out cold at 10pm!
My final question to the Cheltenham Chief- What’s the secret to staying up all night?
Answer to be revealed in my next post!