On a Friday and Saturday night, from 11pm to 3am, teams of volunteers are ‘on the streets’ with the thousands of people who are out for the evening to enjoy themselves, along with the door staff of clubs and the many homeless people in the city centre.
Established in 1995, each evening the Nightlight teams offer practical assistance to anyone who needs it, often working in coordination with the door staff of clubs, emergency services and other agencies. Showing concern and support in these practical ways helps to provide opportunities for conversation, in which the love and hope of Christ can be shared with people.
Dr. McNie joined Linzie Cobain and Brian Simons, the two Nightlight staff members who coordinate the team of volunteers. While Linzie’s team focuses on Shaftesbury Square and the Golden Mile, Brian’s team concentrates on the Cathedral Quarter and Odyssey complex.
“At the start of the evening I accompanied Brian’s team to the Cathedral Quarter, and into the many bars and clubs in that area. It was obvious that the volunteers were well known to the door staff and were very accepted within the areas they visited, and it was also clear that they had good relationships with them. This allowed the volunteers easy access into the bars and clubs.”
“I was also impressed by the SOS bus which is situated in the city at night and took the opportunity to see inside it and learn more about its role. Here people can receive counselling and support from specially trained staff,” Dr. McNie said.
However, while the Cathedral Quarter was relatively quiet, with young professionals drinking and chatting in the bars, as the night went on the Moderator was also able to see the other side of the coin, when the team of volunteers visited the Odyssey complex.
“As the clubs wound down I saw many younger people quite obviously putting themselves into vulnerable situations. Yet as it was a quieter night, we were afforded opportunities to talk with people,” Dr. McNie said.
Returning to Botanic Avenue and Kinghan Church in the early hours of Saturday morning, Dr. McNie was grateful for the opportunity to have some meaningful conversations with a number of people.
“This is a marvellous work that the Nightlight staff and volunteers are engaged in every weekend, all year round. Obviously, this is a ministry that not everyone will feel comfortable doing – but those engaged in this work are committed and enthusiastic, sharing their faith in a meaningful way with people who under the normal course of events would not be under the sound of the Gospel,” Dr. McNie said.
Dr. McNie with members of the Nightlight team talking to door staff in Commercial Court, outside
The Duke of York in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.
How you can help:
By prayer: visit our website
By becoming a volunteer
By financial support
For more information:
Nightlight, 13 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, BT7 1JG
Tel: +44 (0)28 9033 2777 E: firstname.lastname@example.org