This week, Sharon, Information & Signposting Lead, met up with Phil from the Essex Street Pastors to find out about the work they are doing to prevent crime and improve safety in our county.
The Street Pastors were originally set up in London sixteen years ago, spreading into Essex not long after that. They are made up of volunteers from local Christian churches who offer non-judgemental care and support to anyone who may need it, with the aim of reducing crime, assisting the vulnerable and improving safety for everyone.
Street Pastors are generally out and about on Friday and Saturday nights from 9pm in towns including Braintree, Billericay, Chelmsford, Saffron Walden, Clacton, Basildon, Southend, Colchester and Brentwood. They offer not only a listening ear and a chat to those who need it, but also practical help such as bottled water, hot drinks and flip-flops for those who have lost their footwear or cannot wear it any longer after a night out.
The scheme has now grown to include Rail Pastors, focussing on people using the rail network where they aim to support the Samaritans in helping individuals who are experiencing mental health unwellness, as well as attempting to divert away from anti-social behaviour and help passengers feel safer on their journeys. Currently there are Rail Pastors operating on the Shenfield to Colchester and Harlow to Cambridge lines, both on the trains and at stations, with attendance on the Shenfield to Southend line launching later this year.
Another addition is the introduction of School Pastors, who are supporting the pastoral teams in schools, in Billericay and South Woodham Ferrers to talk to young people who are experiencing mental health issues or may be vulnerable to crime and anti-social behaviour. This scheme will soon be extending to schools in Chelmsford, Braintree and Coggeshall.
If you would like to find out more about the Street Pastors and their activities, or perhaps find out how you may be able to help, they can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by telephone on 07568536722.