It's almost 1am on Saturday in Kings Cross and a kid on a push bike is sucking a Chupa Cup spitting distance from a bar called Candy's Apartment.
The 16-year-old has been talking to a man in a fluoro yellow jacket with pockets full of Chupa Chups. Soon the pair are joined by the boy's three mates: a girl and another boy, both 16, and a 13-year-old girl with blue hair under her green hoodie. They all want a sugar hit.
The teenagers had only known each other a few days and they'd come to the city to hang out, smoke and listen to music. They planned to catch the last train home, an hour and a half away in Macarthur.
Nate Brown, the man in the fluoro, extracted all this information, and plenty more, without a single interrogatory question, just a handful of 50 cent lollies and an easy manner.
"There's definitely something that doesn't sit quite right, and if they're still hanging around here when the clubs start to empty out at 2-3[am] we'll step in," he said.
Brown knows what he is doing. The 31-year-old is the co-ordinator of the Take Kare ambassadors, a group of Salvation Army workers and volunteers who offer assistance to young people who find themselves in strife on a night out in the city every Friday and Saturday night.
"Sometimes all it takes is a lollipop or a bottle of water to break the ice and give someone the opportunity to accept some help," Brown said.
The initiative founded by the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation has provided a well-lit rest stop at Town Hall Square since December 2014.
But it's their first night in Kings Cross.
The Safe Space van is parked 50 metres away from where Thomas Kelly was king hit in an unprovoked attack almost a year ago to the day.
Take Kare is in honour of Thomas, whose friends called him TK.
About 70 per cent of the people Take Kare has assisted are between 18 and 25 years old, but eight per cent are underage, some even younger than the blue-haired 13 year-old.
"A few weeks ago we found a kid who was maybe 12 or 13 years old. We had a chat and it turned out he had run away and he had been living rough in the city streets for weeks… he was really vulnerable," Brown said.
"He was pretty hungry so we gave him some food and kept him safe until the police arrived and got him back to his carers," he said.
The Safe Space van is stocked with first aid supplies and a souped-up charger with multiple leads for what seems like every brand make and model of mobile phone.
"You'd be surprised how often a charged phone is the difference between getting home okay and being stranded," Brown said.
Since the first Safe Space was launched in December the team has helped 714 people charge their mobile phones, given 455 people basic first aid, handed out 7650 bottles of water, 8130 Chupa Cups, 329 vomit bags and 564 pairs of thongs.
But there are worse threats than broken high heels.
One Saturday night in March Take Kare volunteers came across a man carrying a highly intoxicated woman who seemed to be in some distress. The man told the team he was the woman's boyfriend and was taking her home to her apartment close by.
But when the team checked her ID they realised she lived nowhere near the city and the man was a total stranger. Once the ruse was up, he fled and the team immediately called the police.
"Sexual assault is a really important part of why the teams are here," Brown said.
"We've consistently come across guys, groups of guys, who are looking to take advantage of a woman, particularly if she's alone, and drunk and coming out of a club by herself," he said.
Punch ups, brawls and ultimately the king hit that caused Thomas Kelly's death may have prompted the implementation of NSW's lock out laws, but the potential for sexual assault is harder to spot than signs of an impending physical altercation.
"It's really quite sickening to be honest, and it's critical that we're here to be able to provide assistance to those women," Brown said.
Bree Johannssen, 22, said volunteering for Safe Space was "incredibly rewarding", but there were drawbacks to a 10pm-4am shift among Sydney's nightclub hotspots.
"People like to flash their genitals a lot, because apparently that's what you do when you're drunk" she said.
"Last week there was a man who was busking, so I put a lollipop in his little tin and he pegged it at my head."
Lollipop projectiles aside, the newly qualified nurse has been able to intervene in dire situations.
A boy had been punched and was bleeding from his ear, which Bree recognised as a sign of a serious head injury and the team were able to get him into an ambulance.
It can be unsettling to see Sydney's nightlife through the prism of grisly medical emergencies and predatory behaviour, but the volunteers are quick to defend their nocturnal patch.
"The city's not a dangerous, nasty place. Everyone should be able to go out and have a great time," Brown said.
"We just want to make sure they can get help if they need it," he said.
4th July Sydney Morning Herald - Kate Aubusson