Church pastors on patrol in Brighton to help drunken partygoers

Posted On 30 Jan 2010 at 9:13 am

Brighton may be the most Godless city in Britain, but those who overindulge on a Friday night will now be helped home by Christian street pastors

The volunteers started their patrols last night outside city centre pubs and clubs from 10pm to 4pm.

They will now be there every Friday, handing out suitable footwear, helping people keep warm, finding taxis, picking up bottles and glasses and generally offering support to anyone who is upset or distressed

Father Gareth Jones, of Saint Michael and All Angels, Brighton, is co-ordinating the scheme.

He said: “Street pastors is the Church in action on the streets, the Church’s response to urban problems.

“Street pastors will seek to engage with night-time economy users, getting help and support for individuals where necessary.

“Street pastors do not seek to convert or evangelise, rather the project seeks to be a silent witness to the love of Christ through social action.”

As part of the church-run initiative, set up with the support of Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Council, about 50 people will be trained in police procedure and licensing matters.

The council has used £2,500 of money given to it by the government for successfully working with the police to improve night-time safety to help fund the scheme.

Similar schemes elsewhere in Britain are credited with lowering crime rates.

Brighton and Hove police commander Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett said: “Although we will work very closely with the street pastors, it is important that their work is seen as separate to the role to police officers.

“It is about looking after the welfare of those who may need help after a night out in our very busy town centre.

“However, I strongly feel that the presence of the street pastors on many occasions will calm down potentially violent situations.”

Councillor Dee Simson, cabinet member for community safety, said: “A package of innovative measures has already been introduced to make the city centre safe and welcoming and night, such as the Safe Space scheme, high-profile policing, taxi marshalls and a Night Safe radio system linking licensed premises.

“The street pastors will be in addition to these and, while they will not be a substitute for emergency services, they will be out and about to provide support and help for anyone who is vulnerable, distressed or having problems during a night out.”

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