Town pastors a success story – after first year

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A GROUP of caring Christians have helped hundreds of people during their first year operating as town pastors in Stowmarket.

The voluntary organisation first hit the streets of the town in December 2009, one of eight town pastor schemes across Suffolk.

Christians from different churches in and around the town joined to help and support people on Friday nights.

The team offers a listening ear and a friendly face in the town, supported by a prayer team at its base at Cafe 52.

Over the last six months, the town pastors have escorted six lone women to their cars or homes and given advice or support to 360 young people under 18. They have also helped to calm down 20 difficult situations, given out 51 bottles of water and removed 316 potentially dangerous items like bottles and glasses.

The town pastors provide help to those who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, using space blankets to keep them warm and ensuring they get home safely with a family member or friend.

They also offer sweets to anyone who needs to boost their blood sugar levels and provide flip flops for girls struggling in their painful high heels.

The pastors cover the busy town centre and also go out to the train station area and to the Recreation Ground.

Inspector Gary Duncan, from Mid Suffolk police, said: “They have done an excellent job.

“They provide a service to people that the police don’t have the resources for. I can’t look after people who have had too much to drink but they create the time to do that.”

Stowmarket Town Council’s Daniel Harvey said the town pastors had made a difference in the town and at big events.

He said: “They are extremely committed people who have done a really good job.

“They have contacted us offering their help which is always appreciated, it’s good having an extra presence.”

The town pastors and the police would like the scheme to cover Saturday nights as well, but the team currently does have enough volunteers.

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit the website at www.stowmarkettownpastors.org.uk