Inspire Award Winner 2012 - Paul Blakey
Founder of Halifax Street Angels and now CEO of the national Street Angels- CNI Network, Paul Blakey, has been nominated for his services to the local community. Halifax Street Angels which was established in 2005 is part of the Street Angels Network, a Christian initiative on the streets of Halifax, which provides a safe place for those who are in town late at night.
Name: Paul Blakey
What does the Inspire Award mean to you?
It is great to be recognised locally. Calderdale College is an organisation which we have worked very closely with over the years – we have been to the past seven Freshers’ Fairs and alcohol safety lectures with the students. It is great to see the partnership working between College, Street Angels and the wider voluntary sector.
Did your qualifications help you achieve where you are today?
I certainly studied hard over the years. In fact, I remember coming to Calderdale College to do a Business and Finance course several years ago which gave me a good understanding of how business works, so yes - definitely!
What was your dream as a child?
That’s a good question; I have always had an interest in computers, something within computers, certainly before they were as popular as they are now. I ran my own business and spent several years in desktop publishing, so I think something creative, something using computers, technology and helping people and getting out there and doing things that make a difference within society. Although setting up Street Angels was not on the agenda when I was a child, it is something I have been called to and feel that I am making a significant contribution to helping towns and cities do just that across the country.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things could you not live without?
My wife, my phone, because that has everything on it and a computer.
What three messages would you like to get across to our students about Halifax Street Angels?
We are there for you: A lot of students go out on a Friday and Saturday night. Street Angels are there to make sure you have a good, safe, fun and enjoyable night out.
Stay safe in the town centre. We have seen time and time again the impact of drinking too much alcohol can have - getting into situations that they can’t get out of, violence towards them, phones being pinched, etc. Watch yourself, watch your surroundings, know where your friends are, know what you are drinking, make sure you stay safe yourself. You are valuable as a person and we hate to see people in these situations where they need our help.
Volunteering can make such a difference. If you do want to volunteer with us at Street Angels or one of the numerous volunteering opportunities in Calderdale, give it a go because volunteering really does make such a massive difference as Street Angels proves.
What’s the secret to the success of Halifax Street Angels and your successes?
The fact that I am a Christian helps. I believe that God calls us to get out there and make a difference and change society for the better, this motivates me to think of new things and new ideas to do just that and Street Angels is one of those things.
What’s your grand plan, what’s next?
We are doing lots of things nationally now and we are working with 120 towns across the country. We are looking at trying to identify towns where there isn’t a Street Angels and where there probably is a need. Then we are looking internationally as well with all the European clubbing capitals as Britian's alcohol problem transfers over there for the summer, so we are looking at how things work there and ideas around music festivals and Street Angles at music festivals and then across the world. Street Angels is probably needed in America, Brazil, Australia and all these different places. It something that should be exported from Halifax to the world.