Come and say hello on a night out, say street pastors

By Emma Evans in Local People

A GROUP of Christians are urging weekend revellers not to be afraid of approaching them if you are in need of help, or just a lollipop.

Brecon Street Pastors have been making a difference in the town since becoming operational before Christmas.

In three month, the group of 15 have helped scores of drunk, incapable and injured revellers who may be the worse for drink or drugs.

Nikki Davies-Wheeler, a member of Watergate Chapel, was instrumental in setting up the scheme in the town after she was inspired by a group from Ebbw Vale came to work at the Brecon Jazz festival two years ago.

"The Street Pastors will go out in groups of four and there will be two groups out at each time. This will work on a rota basis. As well as this we will have Prayer Pastors who we will be passing information back to and we will feedback anything we feels is neccessary to the police."

The scheme was first started by Revd Les Isaac who visited Jamaica to learn how the Church was tackling or seeking to engage with the challenges of criminal behaviour. It progressed from there and is now a recognised scheme in cities all over the UK.

Street Pastors won’t be found preaching about God, instead they are on hand at night time venues to care, listen and talk and to offer practical help.

"We are an extension of the church in the community," said Nikki, a Powys Council Trading Standards officer. "We want to help those who are vulnerable due to drink or drugs and make sure that they are safe. You’ll find us handing out things such as Spikies, to place in a bottle and prevent a drink from being spiked, lollipops and even flipflops for those with high-heels."

Hugh Pryce believes revellers will be more responsive to Street Pastors than the police in many situations so work and partnership with law enforcers and emergency services to make the town safer.

He said: "There is no one of authority within the scheme to be challenged which can diffuse a situation. The calming influence members have in a situation is so valuable if something is getting out of hand. All members have had first aid training, as well as drink and drug awareness, mental health, communication skills training to make sure we have the skills to help when it is needed."

With more members, the team say they could help more people and have an impact on the social issues affecting Brecon.

"We need more volunteers," said Nikki. "It doesn’t matter which Christian denomination that they belong to. Our goal is to help those who need it and if they wish to learn more about the Lord then we can also offer spiritual advice."

For more information contact one of the joint co-ordinators via email at nikki.trefri@live.co.uk or hugh@beacon.org.uk or visit the website at www.streetpastors.org.uk

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