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Street pastors 4.jpg
Street pastors 4.jpg
World News

Street Pastors work honoured in £46,000 thank you award from local police

by Ros Mayfield

A collection of street pastors groups are going to receive funding from Thames Valley Police in recognition of the invaluable support they provide to policing.  

The charity trains volunteers from local churches to go out on patrol in the middle of the night to help people who are vulnerable, handing out foil blankets or water. 

13 of the groups are being awarded a split of £46,000 from the Community Fund at Thames Valley Police. The money in the fund is generated from the sale of items that have been recovered from criminals but can't be returned to their proper owners.

Neville Burt from Wallingford Street Pastors tells Premier he was "thrilled to bits" when he heard about the award.

"It encourages us the police are aware of what we're doing, and pleased with what we're doing... so that is very reassuring for us."

The police and crime commissioner, Matthew Barber,

describes the Street Pastors work as providing an 'invaluable support' to policing.  He told his local BBC that he had, "seen first-hand how they successfully work in collaboration... to help create a positive atmosphere for those having a night out."

Mr Burt is no longer able to walk the streets of Wallingford himself, but he continues to be very involved and receives reports from the pastors who go out at weekends, almost without fail.  

"We meet before and pray together and get ourselves ready. Go out on the street and patrol until the majority of people have gone home and things are quiet.

"Some nights, there's a lot of people around, depending on the weather. It varies very much really from patrol to patrol."

Street Pastors can find themselves dealing with people's who have been drinking or are at risk of self-harm.  Burt tells Premier the working relationship with the local police is very good, although the pastors are careful to separate the two roles: "We have to be careful about how that relationship is portrayed.  We don't want to be seen as being the eyes and ears of the police. We're not 'on their side', so to speak. If we do see them, we will acknowledge them and they will acknowledge us, but on the whole we try to avoid doing that too much for that very reason."

The group in Wallingford will receive £2,000 of the award, which will be spent on uniforms and other equipment as well as training.  The rest of the award money will be divided up between another 12 Street Pastor groups in the South of England, in areas including Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Milton Keynes, with the amounts given being based on size of population. 

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