We’ve just finished 2 days of interviewing for new volunteer Street Pastors. We will have 13 new volunteers starting training in 11 days time. This will bring us up to 60 volunteers, and will allow us to start doing regular Saturday nights in Ryde from April, as well as Friday nights in Ryde, Newport and Ventnor. I want to wish all our new volunteers all the best in this awesome ministry of love and care out on our streets.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog as we’ve been so busy!
Our third commissioning service was held in Ventnor on June 3rd to celebrate the commissioning of 15 new Street Pastors, and the graduation of 15 street pastors who had completed a year’s service. There were also about 20 prayer pastors commissioned on that night too. It was a fantastic evening, and great to see the new recruits starting out on their exciting journey as Street Pastors on the Island.
We now have 52 street pastors from 28 different churches, and approximately 50 prayer pastors. This means we can now have a team out every Friday night in Newport and Ryde, and a team every fortnight in Ventnor, plus we have a team going out once a month on a Saturday night in various locations. This expansion means we will be helping a lot more people across the Island, and working in communities who haven’t benefitted from Street Pastors before. This is great news, and big thanks must go to all the dedicated volunteer Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors for all their hard work, as well as to our many funders. We are planning more expansion of Street Pastors just as soon as finances and supply of willing volunteers allow.
If you are interested in becoming a Street Pastor, there will be another round of training early in 2012, and it’s certainly not too early to express your interest in joining us. We are also actively looking for more Prayer Pastors to support us. Just get in touch if you want to know more.
We also still need more support financially. Regular givers are crucial to keeping Isle of Wight Street Pastors going. If you can give each month you will help us get more Street Pastors out providing help and support to people where and when they need it. You can download a form to complete and return here.
There was a real diversity of stall holders there. The police, Fire Service, Environmental Health, Prison Service right through to Victim Support, The Gay Lesbian and Bi-Sexual support group, Domestic Abuse team, Neighbourhood watch and even the Community Chef. It was a wonderful day really showcasing how many people on the Isle of Wight really care about their local community and how they are trying to make it a safer, more supported place to live.
They estimate about 700 people came on the day, although it felt like many more than that to me. We had many fantastic conversations with the public, some who knew all about us, and many that had never heard of us. Lots of people did make a point of coming up to me and thanking us for our presence on the streets and wishing us well for the future. Indeed quite a few people came up and thanked us because we had helped them personally. It was real confirmation that we are being very well accepted by the people in our towns.
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.
Street Pastors are making a real difference on our streets.
All the Street Pastors give their time freely – around 100 hours a year each – but there are many other costs involved in running the scheme. We have received support through various grants, awards and donations, but rely on individuals giving regularly each month to keep Street Pastors going.
We have big plans to expand our work, but need help to achieve this. If you think you could help Street Pastors to transform our streets by giving £10 each month to support our work, then please download, complete and return one of our individual giving forms.
If you can’t commit to giving regularly you can make a donation online. If you’re not in a position to support us financially though, you can still contribute. Encourage one of the volunteer Street Pastors – whether you see them at church on a Sunday, at work in the week, or on the streets on Friday night. Pray for us, and the people we seek to help. Tell your friends about Street Pastors.
“Street Pastors have had a particularly positive effect around the issue of alcohol related crime in ‘hotspots’…deployment of Street Pastors and the way they operate have reduced the number of Police (and) Ambulance calls to these areas and allowed them to focus on dealing with more serious incidents.” (Chair, Community Safety Partnership”.
“Our tactics for policing the island’s town centres at weekends are based on preventing potential problems from escalating into crimes. The skills of (Street Pastors) reinforce our work in identifying situations where people are at risk of becoming victims or being arrested because of their behaviour.” (Inspector Terry Clawson)
“We notice the difference on Saturday when you’re not here” (Pub Manager, Newport)
“Street Pastors , got great respect for you guys” (Shouted from window as SPs passed)
In a gloomy economic climate and with local and central government cuts starting to bite the people who can make a real difference are us. You and me, together. Street Pastors is one small start in the community taking seriously the principle of “Love Your Neighbour as Yourself” and applying that in a way that will transform our streets.
Street Pastors are recruiting the next wave of volunteer Street Pastors. We are expanding our nights on patrol in both Ryde and Newport to include Saturday nights, plus are looking to set up a scheme in Ventnor to patrol on Friday nights. If you would like to be considered as a future Street Pastor please complete the application form and return it to me by the end of January 2011.
Interviews will be held at the end of February and training will start on March 26th 2011 and will be 8 Saturdays (10-4) in 2 blocks of 4. Training will be completes by early June 2011.
For more information on the Street Pastors scheme and what the role of a Street Pastor involves, please take a look around the website. If you have any other questions please get in contact with me.