Keeping the streets safe

A company focused on providing support, Street Pastors is a nationwide organisation dedicated to making many towns and cities across the UK safer.

The team based in Bridgwater is now set to expand, thanks to a £30,000 grant from the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Community Fund.

Armed with a listening ear and bottled water, the Street Pastor team can be found in Bridgwater town centre in all weathers, working in the small hours of Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. The group, who tackle commonplace night time public issues that have been around for a long time, are closely linked to the local police.

They offer help and support to whoever needs it – particularly to young people - but currently there are just eight volunteers in the town, compared to 50 in neighbouring Taunton. The Hinkley Point C grant will enable the team to train new volunteers and recruit a dedicated administrator.

Street Pastors are all Christian volunteers over the age of 18 and are members of their local churches. In Taunton, they patrol every week from 10pm to 4am, but the lack of volunteers means the Bridgwater team is out and about one in every four weekends.

Dave Knight, Chairman of Taunton and Bridgwater Street Pastors, said: “This grant will help us increase the number of Street Pastors in Bridgwater and run a greater number of patrols more regularly.”

He added that networking was key to the success of the scheme and it was important to work with local churches to garner their support as all Street Pastors had to have endorsement from their own church.

The grant will help the Bridgwater and Taunton Street Pastors work even more closely together, with Taunton volunteers stepping out in Bridgwater while new local volunteers are recruited and trained.

Dave said: “There are so many other good causes and volunteering opportunities that can place demands on the Christian community’s time, energy and resources.

“Being a Street Pastor, although hugely rewarding, is not suitable for everyone and we know that not all of those who come forward and undertake the training will, ultimately, be accepted.

“Street Pastor schemes provide outstanding value for money. Research has suggested that a scheme will reduce crime by 15-30% and reduce police and NHS time.  The saving in human cost is far greater. However, they cannot run free of charge and require ongoing funding. We are grateful to have received a grant from the HPC Community Fund.”