Pastors could help curb booze bother

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LATE NIGHT alcohol-fuelled trouble is not uncommon in Bridlington town centre at weekends, but a group of Christians believe they may be able to help prevent it.

Co-ordinator Phil Gowland, with the support of Rev Jonathan Couper of Christ Church, hopes to introduce a Street Pastor scheme into the town centre on weekend nights.

It would involve trained volunteers engaging with Bridlington revellers, including helping them get home safely, calling for medical help when needed or providing a space blanket for those who may be under-dressed for a cold night.

Street Pastors already operate in dozens of towns and cities across the country and the scheme is accredited by the Home Office due to its results, which generally see a drop in crime where teams have been working.

Mr Gowland is confident that it would be a bonus for Bridlington and said: “After hearing about the scheme at a Christian convention at the Spa last October, it got me thinking about how it could benefit Bridlington.

“It already operates in over 100 towns and cities and has a major impact on crime prevention – with reductions varying between 20 per cent and 80 per cent – so it does have quite an effect on crime levels at those peak weekend times.”

Mr Gowland is hopeful that the scheme will take off in the town, but it does need the support of all the other local churches before it can get off the ground and become a reality.

“It is an inter-denominational church response to urban problems, so we do need the support of other Bridlington churches,” he said.

“It is a way for the churches to really engage with the community, it is about being out there meeting people and getting to know their concerns and be a listening ear – all those benefits are things we can’t really quantify.”

The vicar of Christ Church, Rev Couper, has met with pastors who have seen first-hand the positive results from the scheme in their town and has helped organise a meeting later this month to look at introducing it into Bridlington.

He said: “We had a fantastic meeting recently with Peter and Maddy Wilson who help to run Street Pastors in Wolverhampton.

“They reported that when they are out patrolling the streets in all age teams, there’s a significant reduction in crime.

“I welcome this because we would like to see the same thing happening here in Bridlington.

“I hope many will come to find out more about Street Pastors and how we can make a difference for Bridlington on Wednesday May 25 at 7pm in Christ Church.”

If there is enough interest in the project, it will be set up with the support of Ascension Trust and run by a local co-ordinator with support from local churches, in partnership with Police, Council and other agencies.

Pastors, who must be over 18-years-old and a church-member, would patrol town centre streets in teams of four between the hours of 10pm and 4am to help and listen to people they may come across, particularly those in distress. Anybody volunteering for the scheme must complete a comprehensive 50-hour training programme over three months to equip them for the range of challenges they could encounter whilst out and about.

If this month’s meeting is successful, Street Pastors could be hitting Bridlington town centre streets by autumn this year. For more information about the scheme, or to get involved, contact Mr Gowland on 01262 677658 or email philgowland@fsmail.net. All are welcome at the meeting at Christ Church on May 25, 7pm, where Peter and Maddy Wilson of Street Pastors in Wolverhampton will give a short presentation and answer any questions.