The Cheltenham Guardians Safeguarding Team was founded as 'Operation Guardian' in 2014 by Cheltenham resident Terry Howard. The initial ambition of the group was to provide a community-led welfare service with a strong focus on Cheltenham's homeless.
the need for a bespoke response to safeguarding in Cheltenham's night-time economy. In January 2016 CGST became an official component in the care response to the night-time economy after signing a memorandum of understanding with Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucestershire Constabulary.
In January 2016, India Eve Chipchase was coerced away from a nightclub in Northampton before being raped and murdered. This tragic event triggered the introduction the 'India Protocol' - the safeguarding of women and girls in a night-time economy environment. India's murder resonated hard with Terry and the team as we saw so many opportunities where this senseless murder could have been averted.
GUARDIANS GO VIRAL WORLDWIDE
In November 2016 we posted a story to our facebook page about the plight of a service user 'Emily' (not her real name) and the issues we were having trying to re-connect her with her uncooperative friends. On Sunday morning and throughout much of the following week our post was reported upon by hundreds of news agencies all over the world.
In June 2018, Terry and Guardian Kate were one of the first on scene at the tragic murder of C J Hall on Cheltenham's lower Hight Street. We were thanked by the Deputy Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary and the murder investigation team for our efforts on the night.
The Covid-19 crisis saw CGST suspend its services in the night-time economy due to the closure of pubs and clubs. At this time we donated all of our PPE to Gloucestershire Constabulary in order to help keep their officers safe at a time when the PPE supply chain was under immense pressure. In our down time we raised over £10,000 from the Cheltenham community in order to facilitate the supply and distress purchases of welfare goods to NHS staff. Thanks to our amazing community we were able to deliver white goods to Cheltenham General Hospital, thousands of bottles of water to hospitals and the ambulance service, issue grants to local schools and businesses who were manufacturing PPE for the NHS in Gloucestershire and many more. We even managed to source, purchase and collect (from Bedfordshire) a respirator for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity after they made a public appeal.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
In 2018 Terry Howard won the Breeze Local Heroes Charity Champion Award. In 2019 Kate Pickering won the Breeze Local Heroes Outstanding Bravery Award for her actions on the night of C J Hall's murder. In 2020 CGST won the Punchline Community Champion Award for our Covid-19 reponse. In 2023 independent assessors from ATCM Purple Flag gave special mention of our work, with one assessor stating: "I have visited hundreds of towns and cities in the UK and I've seen nothing quite as special as the Cheltenham Guardians Safeguarding Team". In 2023, joint operations director Tara was invited to 10 Downing Street where she and Cheltenham Guardians were recognised by the Prime Minister for our work in the night-time economy.
The Cheltenham Guardians Safeguarding Team is philanthropic community project managed by a 3-person 'executive' which is supported by a 7-person 'sub-executive' advisory group.
Since 2015 our primary source of funding has been our founder and joint operations director, Terry Howard. Terry has contributed tens of thousands of pounds of his own money in order to help realise the ambition of building a community safeguarding project not reliant on the public purse or charitable partners. Our secondary source of funding has come from local business sponsorships and individual donations from members of the public.