AN AWARD-winning scheme, which has helped out at nearly 5,000 night time incidents in Bury St Edmunds, has been praised.
Suffolk Police have thanked Bury Town Pastors for making the town safer at night.
Since March 2008, the pastors have been patrolling the town between 10pm and 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, helping people get home or to a taxi safely, providing support to people in distress and water to those who have had too much alcohol.
The pastors, who are made up of volunteers from 27 churches in the Bury area, also clean up bottles and glasses left in the street and assist emergency services at road collisions.
Co-ordinator Jo Copsey said: “We aim to value and appreciate each person, treating them with dignity and respect whatever their background and circumstances.
“Much of our time is spent helping people who have had a lot to drink, sometimes spending a long time with someone until they are sober enough to get home safely.”
Chief Inspector Martin Barnes-Smith said: “Police officers are on patrol to provide reassurance as well as deal with any incidents of disorder, but they are not always welcomed by members of the public.
“The Town Pastors are able to give support without prejudice and can often calm situations where police officers would otherwise be involved.”
He said that since March 2008, the the pastors have disposed of 2,258 bottles, glasses or cans which could be used as a weapon, helped 915 people who were drunk, and helped homeless people on 106 occasions, providing them with a thermal foil blanket, water and chocolate.
In March 2010, Bury Town Pastors were awarded The High Sheriff’s Organisation of the Year Award. For more about the town pastors scheme, visit www.burytownpastors.org.uk
n Pastors success story – See Page 28