This article was published in the Stirling Observer today.  Full text below.

We’re recruiting now for training in Jan/Feb 2023. Get in touch now if you are interested in becoming a Street Pastor.

Friendly faces you can count on

Street pastors are making a difference to people in the region

By Kaiya Marjoribanks – 5/10/2022

More street pastors have been commissioned for Stirling and Falkirk, ensuring a helping hand and a listening ear for those in need of help on local streets.

Street pastors help keep people safe on the streets of Stirling and Falkirk during late nights at weekends. Their motto is to “Care, Listen and Help”. Sometimes it’s providing practical help – like giving out free flip flops when high heel shoes have become too sore to wear. But they can also be found spending time talking to people who appreciate a friendly, caring ear to listen to them. They have also helped people in the early hours of the morning who are suffering from over indulgence and need someone to take care of them and make sure they get home safely.

Once new recruits finish the extensive training, they need to be commissioned for service as a fully-trained street pastor. The latest ceremony, conducted like a graduation, was carried out recently by the CEO of Ascension Trust Scotland, Chris Jewell, at Park Church. The street pastors have to agree to work under the guidance of the organisation and to affirm that they will show Christian love to all that they meet. Two new street pastors finished their training this year. They were joined by five others who missed out on a commissioning service during lockdown.

Russell Boyd, Stirling Street Pastors coordinator said: “It’s great to have these people join but we really need more to make sure all the patrols take place. If you’re a Christian and over 18, get in touch if you want to volunteer and keep the service running.”

Stirling Street Pastors also patrol one afternoon a week on the university campus where there are always plenty of students, staff and visitors to talk to. “You can also be a street pastor just for these patrols if late nights don’t suit you,” said Russell.

“Street pastors work closely with other organisations. The police are fully supportive of their work and recognise the role they play and how that complements their work keeping people safe. Likewise, the local councils understand the difference it makes to the streets when there are patrols present.”

At the commissioning service, the work of street pastors was commended by Stirling Bailie and councillor Gerry McGarvey and Falkirk Provost Robert Bissett when they addressed the gathering. Councillor McGarvey even managed to join a patrol as an observer so he could experience first-hand what it was like on the streets. He said: “Stirling Council finds the work of street pastors invaluable in trying to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who may find themselves struggling by the end of a good night. Street pastors have a particular role which compliments others engaged in public safety. Personally, I am thoroughly impressed by the commitment and integrity of the volunteers carrying out this essential service.”

Street pastors work closely with the door stewards of the various pubs and clubs, and they are all linked together with the council’s CCTV by radio. They are also part of Pubwatch along with Go Forth Stirling, who also had representatives come along to the service.

“Next time you are having a night out, or on campus,” said Russell, “look out for the street pastor team and say hello. They are always delighted to meet people. And if they can help you in any way – well, that’s what they’re there for.”