Thames Valley Police is set to allocate £46,000 from its Community Fund to support the commendable efforts of 13 Street Pastors groups.
These groups, comprised of dedicated volunteers from local churches, play a vital role in ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals during the late-night hours.
The Street Pastors, part of a charitable initiative, are trained to conduct nighttime patrols, offering assistance to those in need. Their responsibilities include distributing foil blankets and water, particularly to individuals who may be vulnerable due to intoxication or at risk of self-harm.
Neville Burt, a representative of Wallingford Street Pastors, expressed his elation at the news of the financial support. Burt remarked, “It encourages us that the police are aware of what we’re doing, and pleased with what we’re doing… so that is very reassuring for us.”
The funding, drawn from the proceeds of items recovered from criminals that cannot be returned to their rightful owners, will be distributed among the 13 Street Pastor groups. This financial injection is expected to bolster their efforts in serving the community.
Matthew Barber, the police and crime commissioner, lauded the Street Pastors for their ‘invaluable support’ to policing. Speaking to the local BBC, he emphasized the positive collaboration between the Street Pastors and the police, creating a safer environment for those enjoying a night out.
Despite physical limitations preventing Mr. Burt from personally patrolling the streets of Wallingford, he remains actively involved in the initiative. The Street Pastors gather for pre-patrol meetings where they pray together and prepare for their night-time duties. Burt shared insights into the varying nature of their patrols, stating, “Some nights, there’s a lot of people around, depending on the weather. It varies very much from patrol to patrol.”
The Street Pastors frequently find themselves dealing with individuals who have consumed alcohol or are in danger of self-harm. Burt emphasized the positive working relationship with the local police, highlighting the importance of maintaining a clear distinction between the roles of the two entities. “We have to be careful about how that relationship is portrayed. We don’t want to be seen as being the eyes and ears of the police. We’re not ‘on their side,’ so to speak,” he explained.
The Wallingford Street Pastors will receive £2,000 from the funding, earmarked for the purchase of uniforms, equipment, and additional training. The remaining sum will be distributed among 12 other Street Pastor groups in the South of England, encompassing regions such as Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, and Milton Keynes. The allocation of funds to each group will be based on the size of their respective populations.
This financial support is anticipated to enhance the Street Pastors’ ability to carry out their vital role in ensuring the safety and well-being of the community during the often challenging late-night hours.