'Once you help someone you see what a difference it makes'
In a new series with Christian Nightlife Initiatives (CNI), we're featuring a new community hero each month. For February we have Festival Angel Conrad Andrews ...
In partnership with CNI Network we are celebrating 12 Community Heroes throughout 2020. These people or groups within the CNI network of local projects contribute to bringing positive change to people and communities. Of course every volunteer is a Community Hero and we celebrate all who are making communities like new again! The aim of this feature is to shine a spotlight on some of the heroes who regularly and selflessly offer their time to ensure others feel wanted, safe and very much valued.
February’s Community Hero is Conrad Andrews. Conrad is 37 and lives in Keighley and has volunteered for Halifax Street Angels and various Festival Angels over the last 11 years.
Conrad became involved in Street Angels through his brother Damian who was a very active volunteer in Halifax.
Conrad remembers, “I worked in the night club industry and saw the damage that alcohol and illegal substances could do to people on a night out so wanted to help make a change in Halifax town centre.
“When I heard about the move to Festival Angels I wanted to help out at that and since then have volunteered at Leeds Festival, Boardmasters and Mint and are planning to be at Big Church Day Out, Wildfires, Kendal Calling, Leeds and Mint this year.”
Volunteering has helped Conrad to deal with anxiety issues and to gain team work experience. He said, “I have learnt not to be judgemental and to look beyond the initial perception and listen to and understand the issues that the person is dealing with.”
Because of his experiences of Street Angels and Festival Angels Conrad applied to volunteer at Streamside Camp and Conference Centre, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Here he worked with children from the inner-cities of Philadelphia.
“Many of the children’s parents were in prison so the children often had issues such as anger and depression. My role was that of counsellor, activity leader as well as sharing about my faith.”
Conrad volunteered at the Streamside Camp and Centre over two summers.
Conrad became a Christian in May 1998 and was baptised on the 6th June that year at Lee Mount Baptist Church, Halifax. Gradually work took over life which resulted in his faith been put on a back burner.
Conrad came back to faith in 2010 through his involvement in Street Angels and through a friends invite to an event. Conrad then started to attend All Saints’ Church in Halifax and became involved in The Gathering Place, a project that runs the Food and Support Drop-In and offers support to those who are homeless and those wanting to overcome addiction. Conrad volunteered as the caretaker from 2012 to 2018.
In 2018 Conrad attended University for a course on TV Production and was invited to start a Christian Union, which he ran for a year. This involved outreach on campus from ‘text for a toastie’ to raising money for charity.
Conrad added, “Doing Festival Angels I have dealt with several issues, mainly because of over indulgence on drink or drugs.
“One year we could see a spike in drug use at the festivals and the following year the issue has moved to alcohol not drugs.
“Once you help someone you see what a difference it makes and how thankful people helped are that someone cares.”
“A simple act such as helping put up a tent or sitting chatting over a coffee in the Prayer Cafe shows that people are valued enough to spend that moment with them.”
Conrad shared that the most memorable moments for him were in Lost Property at Leeds Festival.
“One guy had a wallet handed in with £200 in cash. The joy on his face when he was reunited with the wallet and cash was great to see and the man said that it had helped restore his faith in humanity and people.”
Conrad highly recommends getting out and volunteering as it opens up a whole new world that may even take you to America!
For more information on Festival Angels visit festivalangels.org.uk or search Festival Angels on Facebook and Twitter.