Street pastors set to for Saturday shifts

A team of street pastors which patrols the town centre helping partygoers is set to treble in size.

Launched in February, the 16 pastors have been out in teams of four every Friday night helping revellers who are drunk, lost or emotional, and working with the police to reduce the late night trouble hotspots.

The project, which takes volunteers from churches across 1066 Country, will now also cover Saturday nights, and special upcoming events such as the bonfire and New Year's Eve.

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To meet the increased demand, 32 new pastors are about to start 12 weeks of intensive training in first aid, child protection, drug and alcohol awareness, suicide prevention and sociology.

Martin West, the area coordinator, said he was proud of how much the group had achieved in the past six months and has big plans for the future.

"It has been fantastic. We have had a bit of a learning curve but we are ready to move to Saturday nights which are a bit livelier. We have seen how a peaceful situation can turn ugly with the slightest spark but we have also been amazed how our presence can defuse a tense situation.

"We have been very well received and people expect us out now."

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After successfully helping police cover the Hastings Beer Festival, the Old Town Carnival and the town centre while the World Cup was on, the team, which with the new intake is drawn from 21 churches across Hastings and St Leonards, and out to Bexhill, Ashburnham and Northiam, is ready for new challenges.

"Before we were limited because we had a small group but now we can look at doing more. We would like to move into schools in the future and possibly care homes where there an be issues with loneliness," said Mr West.

Inspector Rosie Ross of Hastings Police was full of praise for the street pastors' work.

She said: "It is great they are able to help their community and what they do is so important. We know we can rely on them to look after drunk people but they also prevent crimes by being out there and talking.

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"They have been accepted and there have been no incidents of people being aggressive to them."

In October the Friday night team will switch to Saturdays, and in December the new pastors will take over Friday nights.

To find out more about the scheme call Martin on 07964 167870, email [email protected], or visit