CHURCH leaders in Burnley are opening their doors to offer a safe haven each weekend for young clubbers.

Rev Phil Clarke, of Burnley Central Methodists, is determined that his Hargreaves Street church will be open when there are people around.

And at the heart of Burnley’s pub and clubland, there’s no shortage of company from midnight until the early hours.

Trials are currently taking place for the ‘night church’, which was launched last weekend and will operate over the festive period.

Mr Clarke said: “We are in the perfect place - we wanted to be open when there are people around so we decided to offer our services from midnight to 2am.

“We’ve had quite a few people coming in already. We can offer a quiet place and a coffee, and a chat.”

Supporters of the scheme are working closely with the successful street pastors initiative, where small teams of community workers patrol the town centre, offering advice and help to young drinkers.

Coun Julie Cooper, leader of Burnley Council, said: “I really applaud people who care and actually back that up with actions and go one step further.

“There has been a lot of talk about the Big Society and helping each other out but this is people giving their time up and it should be a tremendous help.

“Burnley has a bit of an established reputation as a place for nightclubs and young people do come from all over.

“But occasionally there is a need to pick up the pieces, when someone has one too many or they become separated from their friends.

“And this will be a place where young people can go and speak to someone and maybe have a coffee. It is really good to see churches like this taking on the role of community leaders.

The town centre is also home to the Retreat and Recover Centre in Hammerton Street, which provides treatment for minor injuries like twisted ankles and broken heels.

New pubs and nightspots have been springing up in the town centre with Mojitos set to operate over two sites in Ormerod Street and Alter Ego about to start trading in Hammerton Street.