Volunteers from the Newtownabbey Street Pastors group were joined on a recent patrol in Glengormley by Mayor Thomas Hogg.
Street Pastors have been ‘on the beat’ around the town, local parks and housing estates on Friday and Saturday nights for the past 18 months, working with the police, council and local community to help make the borough’s streets safer.
The Street Pastor project pulls together members of the church community with a concern for society - in particular for young people who feel excluded and marginalised.
Volunteers are specially trained to care for others, particularly young people who find themselves in need of help.
The scheme is inter-denominational and though run by local churches, pastors are not there to preach but to listen and provide a caring and calming influence.
Street Pastors is a ministry for all ages - from 18 year olds to senior citizens. The message is simple: You’re never too old to help and contribute to your local community in a positive way.
Brian Mullan, who is part of the Newtownabbey Street Pastors management team, commented: “We need more Street Pastors to come forward from the churches and join our resources to help us develop the areas we already cover and to meet the demand for our services in other areas.”
Another 10 local volunteers began training as Street Pastors on Saturday, October 11.
“One of the reasons Street Pastors is both effective and appreciated by the statutory agencies is the training that each Street Pastor undertakes,” Mr Mullan continued. “The training has been well thought through and planned. There are 12 modules including roles and responsibilities, the roles of the police, council, education and health services, understanding our community, youth culture, listening skills, alcohol and drug awareness etc, which are spread over the year.”
Another key aspect of Street Pastors is the spiritual support given to the on-street teams by ‘Prayer Pastors’.
“Prayer Pastors are people who commit to praying for the team as they go out on the streets,” Mr Mullan explained. “They stay at the base to pray for the teams as they encounter people in our community.
“On the night both the Prayer and Street Pastors pray for all aspects of our community. Street Pastors are also prayer walkers, so we are also looking for people to come forward and be part of Prayer Pastors if they want to be involved but can’t give the time to be out on the streets.”
Speaking about his night on patrol with the Street Pastors, Alderman Hogg commented: “I am grateful to the Street Pastors team for giving me the opportunity to see at firsthand the tremendous work they do in helping keep the community safe.
“I want to commend all of the Street Pastor volunteers for their passion and commitment and would encourage those who care about their community to get involved in this very worthwhile project.”
• Fancy becoming a Street Pastor?
Street Pastors are community volunteers who undergo training in a variety of areas, including alcohol and drug awareness and first aid skills.
Anyone interested in volunteering with Newtownabbey Street Pastors should contact their local church leader, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Street Pastors’ Facebook page.
For more information log on to the website - www.newtownabbeystreetpastors.org.uk