What is a Street Pastor?
Street Pastors are trained volunteers from local churches who care about their community. They patrol the streets of Weston town centre from 10pm to 4am every Saturday night. Street Pastors are there to care, listen and help people who are out on the streets.
What do Street Pastors do?
- Care for, listen to and help anyone who is vulnerable or alone.
- Offer water, flip flops and lollipops to anyone who needs them.
- Relieve pressure from door staff and the police.
- Provide the homeless with hot drinks and biscuits.
- Dispose of any glass or bottles.
- Provide practical help and make sure that everyone gets home safely.
Street Pastors are there for anyone whose fun night out has taken a turn for the worse. This may be listening to someone who is lonely, helping someone who has had too much alcohol or drugs, helping a person who has lost their friends, creating a calming presence around fights, or pointing people to the right support organisations.
Street Pastors are there to show God’s love by providing care and assistance to anyone that needs it.
How did Street Pastors begin?
Street Pastors was pioneered in London in 2003, by the Reverend Les Isaac OBE. Les was a Christian minister living in Brixton, which at the time was a dangerous place to live. Many young children were being drawn into gangs and gang warfare. Les was appalled at seeing so many youngsters fighting with guns and knives and decided to pray about it. Through his prayers, he felt compelled to start Street Pastors. On that first night, 18 Street Pastor volunteers took to the streets of Brixton.
As other areas across the country heard about this scheme, Les started to visit towns and cities to talk to police, local councils and anyone else who was interested. Since then, over 12,000 Street and Prayer Pastors have been trained and play an active part in strengthening community life and working for safer streets. Currently, more than 300 towns and cities around the UK have a Street Pastors team. When you add prayer pastors, management teams and trustees, this means that there are over 20,000 volunteers in total associated with the Street Pastors network. There are also a growing number of Street Pastor teams overseas including Australia, the USA and the West Indies.
In 2005, Les was delivering a talk in Yeovil, which was attended by police Sergeant Dave Holtby, and Captain David Evans (Church Army) both from Weston-super-Mare; they happened to be sitting at the same table. They were very inspired by Les’ talk and his solution for the problems that were happening across Britain. Both men were in agreement that Weston needed Street Pastors because at the time there was much trouble and many fights on Saturday nights, taking the police away from other needs. As a result of this meeting, a scheme was proposed for Weston-super-Mare. Sergeant Dave Holtby and Captain David Evans became our founders and started asking local churches for volunteers.
By October 2006, fifty volunteers had participated in a comprehensive training scheme, and were commissioned in Emmanuel Church, by the then Bishop of Wells, Bishop Peter Price. The first team of Weston-super-Mare Street Pastors patrolled that night, and have been faithfully walking around our town centre every Saturday night since then.
Many of our original volunteers have been loyal and faithful, staying with us for many years. Inevitably age, change of circumstances and ill health has caught up with some of our original volunteers, who have had to stand down. However, we have been blessed with new recruits over the years and we are always recruiting. If you feel that you would like to explore what we do, and maybe get involved, please click here.
Do Street Pastors work in the day time?
In other parts of the UK, as well as serving the night-time economy, the Street Pastors model is also being used to train volunteers to provide support in times of crisis in daytime community settings: