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Ellie Compobassi, a volunteer for Soho Angels
Photo: Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a Soho Angel

By El Hunt

…according to Ellie Compobassi, 38.

A team of fairy godparents watches over Soho’s streets

‘The Soho Angels are a team of volunteers offering information and support to people going out in Soho. We’ve been going since last December, and we’re here on Friday and Saturday nights until 5am. Our main goal is to take the pressure off the main 999 services, so we’ll help anyone and everyone – from lost theatregoers to people who are drunk and disoriented.’

Londoners do look out for each other, actually

‘London has a rep for being cold and stony-faced, but that’s not the case at all: we see people trying to help each other all the time, or flagging us down when they spot someone in a bad way. The door staff around Soho are amazing, too – they’ll call us and say, “Angels, can you come here?”’

Booze is only one reason why people might need a hand

We look after a lot of people who are just drunk. Even tall, strapping lads can go down like a ton of bricks after too many shots. But sometimes there is a deeper reason, so it’s good to be non-judgmental. There was one guy who was having a really rough night, and it turned out he had just found out that his dad was terminally ill. I sometimes think about him – I hope he’s okay.’

It takes a strong stomach to work Friday nights in Soho

We always need more volunteers. You get to wear pink hi-vis! But it’s a messy job, involving very glamorous things like vomit bags and bleach. You can’t have any kind of gag reflex around sickness in this job. It’s no use trying to help someone who’s ill while you’re feeling like throwing up yourself.

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