The town centre is recognised as a borough hot spot for late night crime and anti-social behaviour. The atmosphere on the streets is about to change – Street Pastors is coming to Richmond! Adopting an approach which has proved effective in over 100 towns around Britain and nearly all the London Boroughs, local Christians are working in partnership with the Police, the Council and other agencies.
The Street Pastors offer practical care to people on the street and are able to make a difference. Youngsters who are disorientated as a result of alcohol are helped to find a taxi home; girls tottering on high heels are provided with flip-flops; blankets are offered to those who are under-dressed for the weather or who have lost their coats; and a listening ear is available for the distressed. Potentially explosive situations can be diffused by Street Pastor volunteers; members of local churches who are trained by the national organisation and co-ordinated locally. The benefit is experienced by both weekend revellers and the local community. Street Pastors is an inter-denominational Church response to urban problems, engaging with people on the streets to care, listen and dialogue. It was pioneered in London in January 2003 by Rev. Les Isaac, Director of the Ascension Trust, and has seen some remarkable results, including a drop in crime in areas where teams have been working. The UK is not alone in its struggles with crime, binge drinking, gang culture, loneliness, violence and fear.
New groups are starting all the time with enquiries coming from all over the world.