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 Darlington Street Friends launched to keep people safe on a night

 30/01/2019

​KIND-HEARTED volunteers have come together to help people stay safe on the streets of Darlington.


Darlington Street Friends will give up their time on a weekend to help anyone who is out and about in the town centre on an evening and needs help, from drunken revellers to the vulnerable and homeless.


The volunteers will give out water and flip-flops to help with dehydration and sore feet, and are trained in first aid to help with minor injuries.


Dressed in hi-visibility jackets, the seven-strong group of volunteers spent their first night out on Friday (January 25) where they helped eight people who had drunk too much or got separated from their friends. 


The group will initially be out once a month, and, if the scheme goes well and more volunteers are recruited, they hope to expand to more nights.


Mags Theakston, from Kings Church, in Darlington, is the brainchild behind the initiative, which is based on similar schemes like Consett Street Friends.


“We are all Christians and are motivated by our faith to care for others in our community – we just want to make sure everyone is safe,” she said.


“We will be there to help anyone who is out on a night out and finds themselves a bit worse for wear - this could be by providing them with a bottle of water and some flip-flops to walk in, to alerting the emergency services or escorting them to a taxi.


“It could be our own sons or daughters who find themselves in a vulnerable position with nobody to help them and that’s why we want to help.”


The volunteers have been working with landlords and door staff to set the initiative up, and have also been supported by Durham Constabulary and Darlington Borough Council.


PC Chris Horner, from Darlington Police, said: “This is a fantastic initiative with volunteers giving up their free time to safeguard revellers and other vulnerable people in the night time economy. 


“It will be great to see them become a valued part of night life in Darlington and I’ve no doubt that their work will keep people safer and take some of the strain off the emergency services.”


Graham Hall, head of community safety at Darlington Borough Council, said: “Darlington Street Friends is an excellent example of volunteers working closely with local agencies to support and assist members of the community who find themselves vulnerable in the night time economy.


“Our aim is to provide a safe and enjoyable experience in Darlington and Street Friends have a vital role to play.”