Spalding Street Pastors reach five-year milestone
A church-run volunteer project in Spalding to help people enjoy a trouble-free night out in the town is now in its fifth year.
Spalding Street Pastors continue their patrols around the town centre at weekends when adults and young people drawn from several churches help vulnerable people stay safe at night.
"Since its launch in July 2013, Street Pastors have become recognisable in their blue coats and baseball caps, giving out bottled water, flip flops, blankets and first aid to people who need it.
Marion Sandhu, coordinator of Spalding Street Pastors, said: "We are a dedicated group of volunteers from local churches who patrol the town centre every Friday and Saturday night.
"Our main aim is to support, care for, listen to and help vulnerable people who are on the streets enjoying a night out.
"The Street Pastors are first-aid trained in order to respond to minor injuries or illness and we also work to keep the streets clear of danger by picking up bottles and sweeping up broken glass, both of which can cause injury."
Nationally, Street Pastors was founded in London by the Reverend Les Isaac in 2003 and then expanded to more than 300 UK towns and cities under the charity Ascension Trust.
A previous attempt to start a Street Pastors team in Spalding in 2010 failed as a management team could not be formed to run it.
But with support from Churches Together in Spalding and District, Spalding and District Chamber of Trade, South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire Police, Spalding Street Pastors are now a regular sight in the town at weekends.
Matt Clark, director of Activ Group which owns Loaded Nightclub, Bounce Bar and AlleyCatz Bowling Alley, said: "From the outset, both myself and the team at Loaded have been most supportive of the introduction of the Street Pastors service and appreciative of the volunteers’ time and effort.
"Whilst our own security team are vigilant and efficient in the vicinity of our venues, Street Pastors are offering an essential service across the town centre.
"I have personally seen numerous occasions where the volunteers have been the shoulder to cry on, the first responder and the calming influence."
Peter Williams, licensee holder at The Punchbowl in Spalding, said: "Spalding Street Pastors do an amazing job and they have absolutely proved their worth in the town.
"When the idea was first mentioned five years ago, I was totally skeptical about it as I thought it was a bad idea.
"But the Street Pastors are an absolute asset to the night life of Spalding and they are a pleasure to deal with.
"Our customers chat to them regularly and it's nice to see a church-based group doing good things for the community by looking after people who can be a bit worse for wear after a night out."
There are currently 28 Street Pastors in Spalding who are supported by nine Prayer Pastors, a total of 37 volunteers with the charity.
Teams patrol the town on a rota basis every Friday and Saturday from 10pm until 2am.
Coun Anthony Casson, the district council's portfolio Holder for public protection, said: "Seeing the Street Pastors in action is inspiring and they are
extremely valued by people in the town, providing a reassuring presence well into the early hours.
"They are alongside others who work in the night-time economy, such as pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaways, as Street Pastors feel they are giving something back to their community.
"One of the council’s main priorities is to create safer communities so we fully support what the Street Pastors are doing and will help to ensure that their excellent work continues."
Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, said: "Street Pastors carry out a hugely important role across the county as they are trusted and provide a reassuring presence to help hundreds of people who might otherwise come to harm.
"Street Pastors give their time and commitment to helping others and deserve a huge thank you from our families, businesses and the public for the care they take to ensure everyone returns home safe and sound.
“They are crucial in making our communities a safer place.”
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