Street Pastors is an inter-denominational Church response to urban problems, engaging with people on the streets to care, listen and help. It was pioneered in London in January 2003 by Rev Les Isaac, Director of the Ascension Trust, and has seen some remarkable results, including drops in crime in areas where teams have been working. There are now over 270 teams around the United Kingdom with about over 12000 trained Street Pastors.
Each city/town project is set up by Ascension Trust and run by a local coordinator with support from Ascension Trust and local churches and community groups, in partnership with Police, Council and other statutory agencies. It aims to tackle the effects of crime in our communities by engaging with people on the streets and in night time venues. It is an innovative outreach approach to reach disenfranchised young people who are socially marginalised and engaged in criminal activity, anti social behaviour and substance misuse.
The project is unique in that it is staffed by teams of volunteers, recruited from local churches and who share a common concern for the social issues prevalent in the communities in which they live and serve. All volunteers receive a 12 week training programme, learning about different drugs and their effects, youth culture, education and sociology and must complete the induction modules before they undertake any street outreach work. Street Pastors will also be willing to work with fellow activists, church and community leaders, and with agencies and projects, both statutory and voluntary, to look at collaborative ways of working on issues affecting youth, and initiatives that will build trust between them and the Street Pastors.
As the Street Pastor gets to know people in the community he/she will find out their needs are and what can be done to help. A presence of Street Pastors will earn credibility in the community, so that people know that the Church is there for them in a practical way. The role is not about preaching heaven and hell, but one of listening, caring and helping – working in an unconditional way To be a Street Pastor you need to be over 18 (no upper age limit), a church member and able to commit to our training programme and cover the training costs (details on application). Each Street Pastor team consists of at least groups of four, each of which will work a minimum of two nights a month, usually from 10pm to around 2am.
The Ebbw Vale team have been operating since June 2010 and whilst initially were out on the streets every Friday and Saturday they are at present due to team changes only operating on Friday evenings in the town centre and surrounding areas and also on Rugby International Saturday evenings. They are looking to recruit another 5 new Street Pastors in order that the Saturday evenings can be restored to ensure a calming presence is felt on the weekends in the town centre.
Locally the initiative is supported by Ebbw Vale Churches Together, Gwent Police and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.