Unsolicited praise is always good to receive, so Street Pastor groups in Hampshire were delighted with the following address given by Simon Hayes (PCC for Hants and IoW) on 16th May 2015, at the commissioning of new volunteers for Winchester Street Pastors:
Over the last 2½ years, in my role as Police and Crime Commissioner I’ve spoken to many and to varied groups across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight; from Senior officials, MPs, Councillors, business leaders, Residents Association to small gatherings in someone’s front room – it’s a huge privilege.
But on none of those occasions have I felt more privileged than I do this evening, to have the opportunity to say a few words on this special occasion.
You see for me, and many others across our community, it’s not only what you do as a STREET PASTOR, it’s why you do it, and how you do it, and the lasting impression given to those with whom you come into contact – that is the inspiration to us all.
On the, I’m afraid, very few occasions, I’ve been out with Street Pastors, here in Winchester and elsewhere across Hampshire, what is clear is not only the compassion with which you deal with other human beings, but the recognition and trust that others have in you – that is the inspiration to us all.
In marketing terms perhaps, the Brand Recognition of Street Pastors is second to none.
People who don’t even know if it’s a Saturday night or a Friday night, let alone if it’s February or September, recognise that a Street Pastor can be trusted, can help them and is SIMPLY SAFE. You help everyone in need, irrespective of gender, race or creed.
I have got together a group of now 42 young people, my Youth Commission, of the ages 14 to 24, from all backgrounds, who help me to understand the challenges of life and the pressures on young person in Society today. They’ve gone out and contacted over 2,500 of their peers to seek views on those issues.
They are a “Voice for their Generation”.
As a group, but the girls particularly, tell me that they feel safer to be out of an evening when it’s a Street Pastor’s night on duty.
They, as young people, give witness to how their lives have been touched by the without prejudice support of a Street Pastor.
I’ve heard mention, without prompting, many young people – from young teenagers to University students – express gratitude for the help that’s been given to them or for the help they’ve HEARD ABOUT that has been given to a friend by Street Pastors.
So, your humanity is known ALSO to those who don’t even come into contact with a Street Pastor.
Reaching out with flip-flops, water, tissues, lollies and standing alongside people who are perhaps not as attractive as they were at the beginning of the evening is an act of compassion and neighbourly mercy, of faith – of love for fellow human beings that is recognised and doesn’t go un noticed.
In a society where there are so many negative influences on young people, where sadly we learn of abuse and violence seemingly daily, the compassion of Street Pastors resonates with young people.
And by witnessing your kindness they see the genuine cup of human kindness, a brighter, considerate, compassionate, carrying kindness – not one that is there to take advantage of them at a time of vulnerability.
I’m confident that young people whose lives are touched by Street Pastors can, and do, take that kindness and compassion with them in their life’s journey.
So, the influence of Street Pastors goes with a young person far beyond that chaotic contact on a Saturday night.
Now, I’m not a preacher, I’ve never spoken at a Service before. But I’m moved to say this: I recognise in Jesus’s teaching, the neighbour is the one who acts. The Samaritan was a neighbour to the man in trouble. Love isn’t about prejudging who is in who is out; who is acceptable and who is not. Love is about action.
The Samaritan’s actions suggest the inner compulsion of a common humanity – he went over. He got physically involved. He chose to be unafraid of dirt and bloody wounds.
He gave of his own substance – wine and oil. He used his own animal to transport the man. He spent time with him at the inn. Possibly, he delayed his own journey. He gave generously of his own finance and even wrote a blank cheque to cover the man’s expenses.
Jesus ends up by telling his questioner to “go and do likewise”. Don’t be so hung up on religious laws and scruples that you neglect love. Rather, take your cue from this “lawless” Samaritan.
We sometimes assume that incomers, empire builders and criminals must be different from the rest of us.
Jesus’ parable speaks to me and says: “Don’t judge or delineate, but love across limits; don’t be saddled by history, but act for salvation today.”
So, what, then, is my response?
Do I say, “My neighbour is a stranger,” or “This stranger is my neighbour”?
I hope and pray that in all I do it’s the latter. I know that in all you do as Street Pastors it’s the latter.
The Stranger is your neighbour.
So, I simply want to say- THANK YOU!
THANK YOU to Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors in WINCHESTER.
THANK YOU to the Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
THANK YOU to the Street Pastors movement across the UK.
Today – this evening, in this place – on this special occasion, a particular THANK YOU to the NEW Street Pastors and prayer pastors who are being commissioned at this service.
THANK YOU – all of you – for your commitment and dedication to being a STREET PASTOR.
THANK YOU for your inspiration and your humanity.
THANK YOU for living your faith – our faith.
THANK YOU for going out onto the streets to be with our neighbour who needs help and support.