Street pastors aid hundreds

HUNDREDS of people in a Suffolk town have been helped by a team of street pastors in the first year of the scheme.

The Town Pastors scheme in Stowmarket has been hailed a big success during its first 12 months.

Figures show the pastors calmed down 20 “difficult incidents”, offered advice to 360 people under 18, distributed dozens of bottles of water, helped six lone females to their cars or homes and removed 316 “potentially dangerous items”, such as glasses or bottles.

The scheme was launched in December 2009 and uses a base at Cafe 52 for its patrols on Friday nights from 8pm to midnight.

The pastors are all Christian volunteers and come from Stowmarket’s churches of all denominations, offering a listening ear and a friendly face to late-night revellers in the town.

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All the time the pastors are on the street they are backed by a prayer team at the base and a team of people who pray at home.

Monica Gant, scheme co-ordinator, said: “The staff at the pubs, clubs, shops and businesses still open at night and those who run the youth club are getting used to us popping in to say ‘hello’.

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“Many young people are getting to know us and what we do. Our route takes us around the town centre and out to the Recreation Ground and station.

“Our role is primarily to help and support people. If people have been drinking or taking drugs, they can quickly become vulnerable and we have been able to supply bottles of water, call a parent or friend to take them home, wrap them in a space blanket to keep them warm and hold the occasional sick bag.

“We offer lollies to anyone needing an energy boost because their blood sugar has dropped, and we have flip- flops available for ladies who have abandoned their high heels.

“We are often asked why we feel called to care for those on the streets and it is encouraging to hear that we are addressing some real areas of need in the town and that our service is appreciated.”

In addition to their usual Friday nights, the pastors try to provide teams to attend special events and work closely with the Stowmarket Safer Neighbourhood Team.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the scheme can visit or call 07850 310411.

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