It is with deep regret that we write to inform you of the closure of Chester Street Pastors, with immediate effect.
Over recent months, the Chester Street Pastors management team have, via Zoom, been having a series of trustees meetings and meetings with our volunteers to determine what the future looks like and whether we can, safely, return to the city centre streets post COVID.
The COVID pandemic has been the catalyst, rather than the cause, for a number of significant changes. A number of trustees, and an even larger number of volunteers, have ‘called it a day’, for a number of differing reasons. Some through the passage of time and the fact that they have found other things to occupy their time, some through valid and ongoing concerns about the COVID virus and the possibility of infection ‘doing what we do’ and some who are, simply, ‘feeling their age’
As of today, we only have two trustees remaining and less than 50% of our pre-pandemic volunteer numbers. Our licence to operate agreement with Ascension Trust (the overarching charity responsible for Street Pastors initiatives in the UK) requires a minimum of three trustees. We have asked the remaining volunteers if anyone is willing to ‘step up’ and become a trustee but we have had no offers of help in that regard.
Separately from the above, Gordon McGuinness, the chair of trustees and the management team, and I have resigned our positions (I had, officially, been stood down as coordinator since last September, in any event, due to lack of funding). We have written to Ascension Trust highlighting the fact that we are in breach of our licence to operate agreement and that we now have no coordinator, no chair of trustees, a significantly reduced volunteer base and very little available funds. Ascension Trust have acknowledged our letter and have advised us of the official closure procedure, which we have now embarked upon.
Street Pastors have been operating in Chester since September 2008. I have been a Street Pastor since 2009 and the coordinator since 2012. Arriving at today’s announcement has, by no means, been an easy decision but, as it says in the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3
“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under Heaven”.
I believe that the Street Pastors ‘season’ in Chester has come to an end, sad though that is!
All that remains is for me, on behalf of the trustees, to thank several groups of people.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank all of our incredible, hardworking and dedicated Street Pastors volunteers, both past and present. You know who you are, and you should be incredibly proud of all that you, and we, have accomplished over the last 13+ years.
Secondly, I’d like to thank all those organisations, both statutory and voluntary, that we have worked with, and alongside, to seek to ensure that Chester’s night-time economy was vibrant, safe and enjoyable. There are too many groups to name individually, for fear of forgetting some. But you know who you are and you know what you have contributed.
Finally, I’d like to thank all of our financial supporters both large and small, individual and corporate. Without your financial support, we could not have done what we have done, nor could we have made the impact that we undoubtedly have. To you we owe a special debt of thanks.
To God be the Glory for all that He has done, and will continue to do, in and through His people here in Chester and the surrounding areas.
My blessings to you all
Chester Street Pastors