A phrase that’s heard over and over again at the start of each year, but New Year often starts in less than happy circumstances, with many people ending up spending the start of a fresh year in the gutter or a police cell. Street Pastors were out in record numbers for this year’s New Year Celebration to try and make sure everyone had a happy and safe start to the New Year.
As well as our regular patrols in Newport and Ryde, three teams were out in Cowes, which always sees a huge influx of revellers on New Year’s Eve. All the teams had a busy night, and made a real difference out there.
We saw a young woman looking lost and on her own. “Good evening, are you ok”, we asked , “No not really” she replied. “I’ve been split up from my friends and they are all at the Anchor, and I don’t know where that is.” “Would you like us to walk with you to find them?” we asked. Very gratefully she accepted our offer, saying that she wasn’t comfortable walking through the town on her own. She took a chocolate, and we walked together to find her friends. Re-united she thanked us and we move on. We see 2 groups of lads shouting at each other. With a big smile we offer one group some lollipops saying how we didn’t want them to get into trouble tonight. After a minute or so, they are laughing and joking with us and give us a big hug.
These two interactions appear fairly simple and low-key. Irrelevant almost. The reality is that collectively these encounters lead to genuine change. A young ladies evening was saved through a simple action that enabled her to get back to her evening’s fun without having to feel unsafe along the way. The early intervention to diffuse anger and aggression potentially stopped a situation escalating into violence, injury, damage to property and diversion of the police from other activities. Instead we had the opportunity to talk to this group of lads, relate with the real people under the “laddish” masks.
These changes are hard to quantify – how many fights do we stop? How many people do we leave happier then before we met them? What we do know is that crime has dropped in the areas Street Pastors operate, people report feeling safer with Street Pastors around, the police are adamant that we have a genuine positive effect.
If you’ve had a positive experience of Street Pastors, if a Street Pastor has made your life better in some way, please let us know. We always love to hear back from people. You can use the contact form on the website, comment on this post, or chat with us on Facebook or Twitter.
So, all that’s left is to wish you a happy, safe and fun year. Let’s make our streets better places to bel in 2011.