The Street Pastors Initiative is an interdenominational response to today’s social problems. It was set up in London in 2003 by Rev Les Isaac, and today there are around 9,000 trained volunteers in around 250 teams within the United Kingdom.
They were initially set up to deal with gang culture and the use of knives and guns in places such as Lewisham and Hackney: but as the scheme spread, it was adapted to deal with local needs – such as those who are the worse for wear after evenings in nightclubs or pubs, or the lonely and homeless.
Crime rates have been shown to drop by up to a third in areas where Street pastors operating.
A Street Pastor is a church leader or member with a concern for society- in particular for young people who feel themselves to be excluded or marginalised – and who is willing to engage with people wherever they are: both in terms of their perspective on life and their location.
Street pastors is an ecumenical initiative, and several churches in this area have come together to support the work, with members are working together in the team.Street pastors are a support to the police and community services but do not take their place.The New Forest police are keen to work with us, and this cooperation is already working well where Street Pastors have recently been set up on the Waterside.
Close liaison with the police and local authorities is essential so that the real needs of the local area are strategically met: working in conjunction with the police, local authorities and voluntary agencies is known as the ‘urban trinity’.
Street Pastors in rural areas are not often involved in acute situations, but their presence offers reassurance, diffuses tensions, deters criminal activity such as vandalism and gives the opportunity to engage with people – all of which are needed in Lymington and the surrounding area. Our Street pastors go out from around 8 pm and return before midnight.
Although Street pastors are all Christians, it is pastoral care and not evangelism which is the focus of their work. They work through the love of Christ, and whether or not this is acknowledged by those who receive their care, that experience is clearly something which they value and want. Folk know the pastors come from ‘church’ and there is respect and good natured bantering with the pastors, as well as some life-changing conversations.
All Street Pastor activity is underpinned by prayer. The prayer teams, known as Prayer Pastors, meet to pray before the Street Pastors go out on the streets and remain in a church centre to pray about situations as they arise. Others support in prayer in groups or individually in their own churches or at home.
Our Street Pastors initiative gives a wonderful opportunity to engage with our community, by showing the love of Christ by giving to others in a practical way, by making a difference to many whose lives are touched by a fleeting smile, unexpected care, and by acceptance and understanding – quietly witnessing to the love of Christ who gave His life for each one of us.
Do you want to get involved?
With more individuals who can help with the pastors, the better we can offer help to those who need it. Currently, we are out in Lymington on Friday nights and Saturday mornings but with your help can increase our range and service. If you’d like to find out more, visit our Contact page.