Crucial work of our life-saving Red Army
From saving lives to reuniting lost children with frantic parents, they are the oil that keeps Sheffield city centre running smoothly.
They may be hard to miss in their bright red shirts, but the City Centre Ambassadors go about their work quietly helping businesses, residents and visitors to the city on a daily basis.
Only looking at the raw data can you truly appreciate how much this band of 13 loyal servants contribute to daily life in the heart of Sheffield.
So it helps that Sheffield Council has done just that, crunching the numbers to reveal the full extent of their invaluable role.
In the 12 months to April this year, the team spoke to more than 36,000 people, walked for more than 2,000 hours on foot patrol, responded to over 6,000 calls from retailers and the public, and made more than 1,500 referrals for repairs and maintenance.
They also proved handy in a crisis, attending more than 200 first aid incidents and reuniting 23 lost youngsters with their parents and carers.
And they were there for the city’s homeless too, devoting countless hours supporting 250 different people on Sheffield’s streets to access the services and support they desperately needed.
Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield Council, said: “We have a fantastic team of Ambassadors who work hard and their efforts make a significant difference to people and businesses in the city.
“They don’t shy away from tricky situations and they’re always calm in a crisis. I know people in the city centre can count on them to help, whatever the circumstances. They have all sorts to deal with and generally they do it with a smile.”
The Ambassadors are also a key resource for the city’s shops and businesses, to which they made over 1,000 visits in the last year.
They operate a radio scheme to tackle shoplifting and other crimes, and they work closely within the Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID) to keep firms up to date with the latest developments.
Sheffield BID manager Diane Jarvis said: “Ambassadors are a vital step in fulfilling one of the BID’s core objectives of making the city centre safer for businesses and visitors alike. They provide a friendly face to the city, make people feel safer and help deal with some of the issues businesses face.
“We work closely with the council and its ambassadors and will continue to do so in the future.”
The Ambassadors also play their part in keeping the city clean. In the last year they issued 71 fines for littering and illegal pamphleting and provided evidence which led to three prosecutions for graffiti.
But perhaps their most vital contribution comes when Sheffield hosts the many events staged in the city every year, from the Tramlines musical festival to the World Snooker Championship
Controlling the crowds, directing people to venues and reporting incidents to the emergency services are just some of the ways they are called upon to ensure things go without a hitch.
Coun Lea said: “It’s been a busy period for the team with the 40th Anniversary of World Snooker and Sheffield United’s civic reception, where our Ambassadors controlled thousands of supporters, all desperate to get a good view of the players, and then stayed out way past duty to clear up the mess.
“Now we’re busy planning our next round of events, with City Ride, Cliffhanger and Tramlines all set to hit the city centre in July.
“Whether it’s major incidents, major events or just a friendly point in the right direction, the team are always on the go, out and about helping people. I’m very proud of what they’ve achieved.”
Phil Pix, from Hillsborough, has been a City Centre Ambassador for 10 years.
He said: “As a Sheffield lad I have a lot of pride in the city and this job means I can make a real difference to residents, visitors, businesses and Sheffield’s reputation.
“I love being an ambassador. It’s a tough job but it’s very rewarding. And what other job would give me the chance to meet people, help those in need, keep fit and active and know the city centre inside and out?
“There are some real challenges and it can be emotionally draining. As in all cities, there are people who beg on the streets and we get to know them and their stories, where they’ve come from and how they ended up here, and it can be really hard seeing them in these terrible situations. It’s difficult not to take that home with you at the end of the day.
“But on the flip side, we’re trained to help these people and we have the knowledge to point them to the right services and when you see that someone has turned their life around because you gave them that little bit of your time, it’s a wonderful feeling and makes it all worthwhile.”
Hours of foot patrols
Times spoke to homeless people
Calls for assistance from retailers and members ofthe public
Fines for littering and illegal pamphleting
First aid incidents
Visits to retailers and businesses