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Street pastors are welcome addition

Delight at new help with late-night revellers

ON PATROL: Street Pastors will soon be out in Herne Bay
ON PATROL: Street Pastors will soon be out in Herne Bay

A TEAM of angels will take to the streets of Herne Bay this summer to keep a watchful eye on late-night revellers. The town’s churches have teamed up to launch a Street Pastors scheme, where volunteers patrol hotspots for antisocial behaviour, handing out bottles of water, flip flops and blankets. They also look out for people who may be vulnerable or upset and make sure they get home safely or lend a listening ear. Supporters gathered at Christ Church in Underdown Road on Monday to officially launch the scheme, which follows similar projects in Canterbury and Whitstable. The Rev Anthony Everett said it had its roots in Bible teachings. He read from Psalm 33, which mentions righteousness, justice and love, and added:

“That is what we are all about.”

The launch was attended by representatives from Kent Police and Canterbury City Council, including the Sheriff of Canterbury Cllr Ann Taylor.

No hesitation

Doug Rattray, from the council-run community safety unit, said he had no hesitation in supporting the scheme and described it as the “missing link” between the police and the council. Chief inspector Mark Arnold quoted a Bible verse describing Christians as “the salt of the earth…the light of the world” and told them to let their light shine. He said:

“That is what Street Pastors do. They are there in the dark, shining a light and being the salt of the earth. It is the right thing to do and this is the right time for Herne Bay. I know you are going to make a real difference to your community”

The pastors on patrol are supported by more volunteers at a central base who pray for their work, and all receive specialist training. Volunteers have to be church members and need a police check and a reference from their minister before they can sign up. Karen Garner, who is one of the first Herne Bay volunteers, said:

“We don’t want to stop young people enjoying themselves but it is important they are safe. We have to be there like the Good Samaritan, always there for people and care for them and listen to them. We really need to get the church out to the people.”

Anwar Bourazza, from the Ascension Trust which runs Street Pastors nationally, said statistics showed the scheme reduced crime.

Drop

In one year in Whitstable, police figures showed a 75 per cent drop in antisocial behaviour on the nights Street Pastors patrolled compared to the year before.

“This is reflected all over the country;” he added “You guys are going to do something amazing and be a real blessing.”

The Herne Bay Street Pastors will take to the streets in July and will initially patrol on Friday nights, concentrating on the Memorial Park, High Street and beaches.

Street pastors

  • STREET Pastors were launched in the UK in 2003, in Lambeth and Hackney
  • There were just 18 to begin with — now there are more than 11,000 worldwide
  • The scheme covers 29 out of the 33 London boroughs and is active in 280 locations across the country, from Orkney to Jersey
  • Street Pastors can be found in Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar and Ireland
  • The scheme’s motto is “caring, listening and helping” and as well as helping individuals they clear broken glass, hand out bottles of water to people who are dehydrated or vomiting and wait with anyone who needs medical attention until an ambulance arrives
  • Street Pastors work in teams of four, supported by another team at base
  • They need to be at least 18 but there is no upper age limit — the oldest is 88
  • Pastors must be members of a church and need a reference from their minister and a police check. They are asked to commit to one shift a month
  • For details on the Herne Bay scheme, e-mail hernebay@streetpastors.org.uk

Herne Bay Times, February 27th 2014

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