Since the launch of Warrington Street pastors just over a year ago, the Christian volunteer group have assisted many people in the town centre offering free support and advice.
The first year of the group’s work has been hailed as a success following a reduction in alcohol driven crime and antisocial behaviour.
Warrington Street Pastors first anniversary celebration was held on 6th October in Holy Trinity Church in Warrington town centre (photo).
We spoke to John Britton, chairman of the trustees:
How did you become involved with Street Pastors?
I was asked by a good friend Mark Mitchel from the Wirral to meet up with The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire Mr David Briggs who having seen the reduction in crime rates where Street Pastors were operating was interested in finding someone in Warrington to get church leaders together and set up a Street Pastors
What do Street Pastors actually do?
It may be better to start with what we don’t do.
We don’t attempt to preach or proselytise, give tracts out etc., or give unwanted advice.
What we do is to simply try to show the love of God in a non-judgmental way to those in need as illustrated by our Lord in the parable of the Good Samaritan who, on coming across a badly injured man from a different religion, race and creed administered first aid before handing him over to those more able to care for him.
A Street Pastors main role is to make themselves available to care, listen, support and help mainly vulnerable young people to move into more positive endeavours.
All our Street Pastors are drawn from local churches and are committed Christians who must have had to been an active member of a church for at least a year. Prior to being excepted as a volunteer each Street Pastor applicant must have a recommendation from their church leader and that’s prior to going on the streets as an observer, a formal interview, DBS checks references etc.
Regrettably, we have had to turn away several applicants who for one reason or another failed to meet our criteria.
Each volunteer Street Pastor undergoes a period of intensive training with the complete course taking in the region of thirty-six hours. It’s quite a commitment for them.
What difference has Street Pastors made to the people of Warrington?
Cheshire Constabulary statistics show that arrests due to alcohol and antisocial behaviour were down by 26% in Warrington town centre for the year to August 2017 the period in which Street Pastors were operating.
Why do you think it is important for the church to support ‘on the ground’ initiatives like Street Pastors?
It is in my opinion that ‘Church Warrington’ by simply showing the love of God through Street Pastors to particularly to young people and workers in the night time economy not by preaching, proselytising or giving out leaflets but by doing as our Lord illustrated in the parable of the good Samaritan on finding a badly injured man by the road side from a different race, colour and creed patched up his wounds and handed him onto those more capable of looking after him.
What would you say to anyone who is inspired by your example and wants to make a difference in a similar way in their own community?
Firstly and most importantly pray about it secondly give me a call and I will give them all the help I can.