Do you believe in angels?
When you are lost or down in Soho (or maybe you’ve just over-indulged on your night out), you may feel a gentle tap on your shoulder. Turn, and you might find a modern day Clarence from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ standing at your side.
The Soho Angels are not a celebrated drag act or an ethereal vision of erstwhile local, William Blake. They’re real enough and doing fine work on the streets of Soho every Friday and Saturday night.
Rather than wings, they wear hot pink tabards and warm, inviting smiles to go with them. They come bearing bottles of water, useful advice, phone chargers, a shoulder to rest or cry on. “We’ve literally got everything you could possibly need,” one Angel said. They’re a respite in a city that’s reluctant to give you a breather.
“The experience with the Angels is fantastically positive,” says Charlie, who works at New Scotland Yard when he’s not in good Samaritan mode. “I’ve not had a single negative experience or interaction with them”.
The Soho Angels of course, descended from a far loftier plane, namely Manchester. For seven years in that city’s Gay Village, Angels have helped over 2,500 people in crisis – and made another 35,000 people’s night just that little bit safer and that little bit more comfortable.
It was only a matter of time before their good work headed south, and in 2017, the Angels descended on London. Both the Village Angels and the Soho Angels have a strong bond with the LGBTQ community, however they will come to the aid of anyone in need. You’ll also see them chatting with members of St John Ambulance or with the Met Police. One of the Angel’s key aims is to steer nightlifers away from situations that might otherwise lead to a run-in with the emergency services, one way or another.
By the way, anyone can become a Soho Angel. The training and support is excellent and the rewarding feeling after a night shift is incomparable. You also get to work from a place called Heaven, which not many will be able to say!
“Hugely fun” and “the most rewarding thing I’ve done” is how a couple of the Soho Angels describe the experience. And for some of their benefactors, it’s even been the difference between life and death.