THE ARBROATH Street Pastors initiative, which helps people who are seen as vulnerable on the town’s streets at weekends, was launched at Angus College on Monday evening.
Street Pastors is a national initiative run by the Ascension Trust that brings together a range of local churches. Volunteers are trained to care, listen and support individuals who may be vulnerable on the streets of Arbroath at the weekend.
Various activities are undertaken by the Street Pastors from issuing flip flops to young girls who have ‘party feet’ thus avoiding injuries from potential glass or bottles, to supplying drinks of water and getting people home safely.
This local initiative is strongly supported by a range of organisations which include Tayside Police, Angus Council, Angus Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, Tayside Council on Alcohol, NHS Tayside and the Community Safety Partnership.
The initiative was pioneered in London in 2003 by the 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 8,000 volunteers around the United Kingdom.
Arbroath Street Pastors is the 13th initiative in Scotland with neighbouring areas in Aberdeen and Perth also taking part in the scheme.
The Arbroath initiative is chaired by local minister Alan Herd, of the Elim Pentecostal Church. He explained: “As the Street Pastors get to know people in the community they will find out what their local needs are and what can be done to help.
“We hope that people learn to know that the church is there for them in a practical way. The role is not about preaching to people but one of listening, caring and helping - working in an unconditional way to help.”
Robert Peat, Angus Council’s director of social work and health and chair of the Angus Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, said: “Through the partnership’s Focus on Alcohol Angus, we have been supporting the local churches in Arbroath to develop and establish their initiative.
“This has involved the volunteers establishing a management group and agreeing a calendar of training that will help them on the streets to assist individuals, some of whom may be under the effects of alcohol, to be safer at a time when crime or accidents can occur.
“This will reduce the varied interventions sometimes required by Tayside Police and health services to assist people at the weekend when they have been on an evening out.”