Bishop joins angels at gay village
26 September 2016 IN: Bishop
The Bishop of Manchester became an ‘angel’ for the night on Friday when he patrolled Manchester’s gay village with the Village Angels, to offer practical care and support for people on a night out.
With their hi-viz tops and two-way radios, teams of Street Angels and Pastors have become a regular sight around the late night bars and clubs of many city centres. For the past four years Manchester's Village Angels have been part of this army of volunteers, directing the lost, consoling the distressed and helping to keep revellers safe on the streets of the Canal Street area, the city's lively and popular "gay village".
Accompanying LGBT Foundation director Paul Martin and a regular "angelic host" on street patrol last Friday night was Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Dr David Walker, seeing at first-hand how a comforting word or a helping hand can prevent a night out turning into a disaster. So what did he make of it?
"It was impressive to see the Angels in action, and to witness the very high regard they are held in by the police, the staff who work in the village and the public at large. A lot of their work is just being there for people who have got separated from their friends, or who have found what should have been a good night out has turned sour. But it can get a lot more dramatic. One man was attempting to throw himself into the canal. Our patrol helped to hold him secure until the professional assistance we had summoned arrived.
"There's a lot of risky behaviour in the night time economy, whether it be drugs, drink or sex. Angels are not there to condone or condemn, but to be a practical expression of care and support. The Village group have received many letters of thanks, not just from those they've helped but from their friends, parents and relatives too."
So what did those out for a good night make of having a bishop in their midst?
"I was amazed at the number of people who recognised me, and who made the effort to come and thank me for being there, whilst scores of others signalled their support through social media. A core part of my role as a bishop is to be a visible sign of God's love reaching out into every corner of the world. From the pages of the bible to the streets of Manchester, angels are a tangible expression of such love in action. Our city centre is a safer, happier and better place with them."