Street Pastors are Christian volunteers who provide care, support and practical help to people out on the streets of Ryde, Newport and, at certain times of the year, Cowes. Volunteer teams patrol the town centres and provide help and assistance to people who are suffering the effects of over consumption of alcohol, are at risk of violence, feel unsafe, are lonely, hurt and abused, or just value the extra feeling of safety that comes from having volunteer Street Pastors around. Many of those we work with are often seen by society as having caused their own problems – particularly those suffering the effects of drinking too much. Our care is offered without judgement – regardless of the causes of pain, sickness or danger each of our beneficiaries is still a human being, still someone’s daughter, or someone’s brother.
Street Pastors work in small teams (usually 4) and operate in partnership with the police, but with a very different role. They go out in full uniform and equipped with various equipment and supplies of free items we distribute including:
- Flip-Flops – given out mostly to women who have broken or abandoned high-heel shoes and would otherwise walk home in bare feet.
- Chocolates* – given out to cheer people up, or as a distraction technique in situations were one or more people are becoming aggressive.
- Lollipops* – because it’s harder to pick a fight with someone when you are sucking a lolly! Very useful for calming down tense or aggressive situations.
- Bottles of water – dehydration can be a major problem particularly after people have been drinking alcohol; we give out lots of bottled water to combat this.
- Foil blankets – people are often ill equipped for the drop in temperature as night falls, where Street Pastors find someone suffering from cold they are able to distribute foil blankets. They have many other uses, too, such as maintaining the modesty of a young woman in a short skirt who has fallen to the ground.
On most Saturday nights and one Friday night each month, a team is out in Newport and Ryde, usually from about 9pm until the late venues close, which can be as late as 3am.
Street Pastors ceased patrols during the lockdown periods of the coronavirus pandemic, but have been fully active again in 2022. However, current Street Pastor numbers are down because we have not been able to recruit in the churches in the past two years, and consequently patrols for now are fewer until new recruits can join our teams. If you are interested, can fulfil the criteria** and can spare one night a month, please contact our Coordinator using the number or email form below to find out more, or if you are not sure whether you fit the criteria.
**To become a Street Pastor an applicant must have been a committed Christian for at least a year, be a member of a local church, be able to provide a positive reference from their minister, a character reference, be at least age 18 (with no upper limit!), undergo a DBS (formerly CRB) check and the training course and be prepared, if able, to make a contribution to cover the cost of his/her uniform and training (although we encourage the Street Pastor’s fellowship to be involved in this – we will never turn down a suitable candidate over funding issues). A Street Pastor undertakes around 45 hours of training, mostly online, spread over up to 12 weekends (usually Saturday mornings).
Records of interactions are made on every patrol and some excerpts from these gave an idea of the sorts of things Street Pastors do:
- Met 3 girls aged 15 who had been asked to leave the Balcony (under 18 disco night). All had been drinking beforehand. One very drunk, being sick. All needed water and foil blankets. Contacted parents to come and collect.
- Along Esplanade east of the LA Bowl, moved boards used by skate boarders to safe position.
- Near LA Bowl spoke to middle aged W/M under influence of alcohol. Gave water and waited locally to see him safely into pick up car.
- Gave directions to man who had attended concert.
- Couple outside Liberty’s, flip flops given out and first aid given to finger.
- Long conversation with a man, spilled his heart out about his problems, rent arrears etc. We advised going to the CAB.
- Outside KFC, gave flip-flops to man who lost his shoes and blankets to four men.
- Outside Liquid Lounge gave water to girls waiting for taxi.
- Picked up bottle and glass outside Wetherspoons, returned glass and emptied bottle before placing in bin.
Street Pastors is managed by a dedicated coordinator, Andrew Gardner. You can contact Andrew on 07979 244868 or via email using the form here.