Vulnerable people who have had too much to drink on a night out will get a helping hand from this summer when Spalding Street pastors is launched.
Volunteers dressed in blue all-weather jackets will patrol the town centre armed with bottled water, flip flops and kindness after a “fantastic response” from churches in South Holland to an appeal for help with the scheme.
More than 100 people have expressed an interest in becoming Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors, a team of volunteers based at a Spalding town centre who will provide moral and spiritual support to those on the streets.
A series of information evenings held at The Lighthouse Church, Spalding, over the last four weeks drew Christians from across the area to find out more about the scheme aimed at making night time safer in the town.
Pastor Chas Sandhu, minister at The Lighthouse Church, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response to the information evenings and Street Pastors will be up and running at the end of June.
“We’ve got enough people to do it and hope to have all our volunteers trained up by the beginning of June.
“There are enough people to act as Prayer Pastors as well and some have even asked to double up as Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors.”
Pastor Sandhu confirmed that an attempt was made to launch Spalding Street Pastors two years ago but it failed because a management team couldn’t be set up to run the scheme.
But he added: “I always thought we would get the numbers to volunteer as Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors, but this time we’ve been able to get a management team together so that the scheme can function properly.
“We’re very positive about the scheme, even though it’s never been done before in Spalding, and it’s an exciting time for the town.”
The scheme has been enthusiastically backed by pub and club owners, South Holland District Council members and the police after the success of Street Pastors elsewhere in Lincolnshire, including Boston, Grantham and Stamford.
Pete Williams, owner of The Punchbowl in New Road, Spalding, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon about Spalding Street Pastors and it’ll be lovely to see volunteers being mobilised for a good cause.
“There’s a lot of scaremongering nationally about people going out at night and I think Street Pastors might put people’s minds at ease.”
Matt Clark, managing diretor of Activ Leisure Group, owners of Loaded in Westlode Street, Spalding, said: “I’ve been pushing for a Street Pastors scheme to start in Spalding for four years and I’m an absolutely huge supporter of it.
“I’ve seen how well it works across the county, as well as in the UK, and I think Spalding is certainly in need of it.”
Street Pastors is run nationally by the charity Ascension Trust and there are about 250 schemes in the UK.
Insp Jim Tyner, community policing inspector for Spalding, said: “I think the introduction of Street Pastors in Spalding will add to the sense of well-being in the town centre after dark and increase people’s confidence to use it at night.”
Coun Malcolm Chandler, chairman of South Holland Licensing Authority, said: “We have come a long way and I am sure Street Pastors will prove to be an asset to Spalding.”
We are happy to clarify that more than 100 people attended the three information evenings about Street Pastors held on February 16, 19 and March 5.
About 50 people have applied to volunteer for the scheme which includes both Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors.