A TEAM of Christian “guardian angels” stepped out among Oxford’s party-goers for the first time to make sure they stayed safe.

The Street Pastor scheme has finally launched in the city after being first mooted two years ago.

Each Friday night from now on, a team of specially trained volunteers will patrol the city offering a helping hand and a listening ear to people as they pour out of late-night bars.

Dressed in dark blue coats marked with ‘Street Pastor’, they will arm themselves with lollipops to calm rowdy drinkers and flip flops for women struggling to walk in high heels.

The team began patrols with a trial last Friday, and stopped outside watering holes in Cornmarket Street, George Street, Park End Street and Hythe Bridge Street as well as Frideswide Square and St Ebbes Street, between 10pm and 4am.

Former Oxford Mail crime reporter Jo Duckles, 35, of Littlemore, felt inspired to join the scheme after witnessing some of the problems first hand, when out with police covering stories.

She said: “We helped one guy who was not in a good way and we waited with him until an ambulance came to take him to hospital. There were other people who were really drunk. We had foil blankets to keep them warm.

“But it was a really nice atmosphere in Oxford.

“We were expecting it to be a lot worse than it was because a lot of people were paid at the end of last week, and it was Freshers’ Week for Oxford Brookes.”

She added: “It’s a really practical way to play out my faith.”

There are 16 trained Street Pastors in the city who will take it in turns to do a Friday night shift in teams of four, and another 10 more will be trained over the next two months.

The Reverend Kathryn Bracewell, minister at New Road Baptist Church, is one of the organisers.

She said: “We’ve been working towards this for two years so it was quite exhilarating to be out for the first time. We had a very positive response from people.

“They were really pleased we were there.”

Phil Davidson, general manager of The Bridge nightclub in Hythe Bridge Street, said: “Anything that helps the residents in the locality of nightclubs is a good thing.”

The scheme is already running in Witney and Wantage and there are plans to extend it to Abingdon. It was first launched in the UK in Brixton in 2003.

Police said there were no arrests after the Stamina pub crawl on Thursday night, which attracted hundreds of students.