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Onward Christian pastors of the night

PUBLISHED: 10:20 05 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:36 06 July 2010

A scheme designed to make Lowestoft a safer, friendlier place at night has been hailed as a fantastic development for the town.

Churches in Lowestoft and district have joined forces with Suffolk police, Waveney council and other agencies to set up the town pastor scheme - an idea that has already been piloted elsewhere.

A scheme designed to make Lowestoft a safer, friendlier place at night has been hailed as a fantastic development for the town.

Churches in Lowestoft and district have joined forces with Suffolk police, Waveney council and other agencies to set up the town pastor scheme - an idea that has already been piloted elsewhere.

This month it is being rolled out in Lowestoft, and town pastors will work in pairs, wearing distinctive jackets and caps bearing a logo and Christian fish symbol as they carry bottles of water and Freddo chocolate bars. Initially, they will be out on Saturdays from 10pm to 4am, patrolling the town centre and seafront areas that cover most of the pubs and clubs in the Nightsafe scheme.

The 34 pastors, drawn from various churches, will offer a friendly face to all those out on the town and give pastoral care to anyone who needs it. Also, they aim to help people in a vulnerable state.

Town pastors in other towns in Suffolk have helped to reduce crime. And Chief Insp Paul Sharp, Waveney's district police commander, said: “This is a fantastic development for Lowestoft.

“Lowestoft is one of the key areas in Suffolk's night-time economy, and we are keen to do all we can to help make the town as safe as possible for all to enjoy.

“I see the town pastors as having an important role to play through early intervention - getting to talk to people before potential conflicts escalate - and by providing support and guidance. Simply talking to people can help in a range of situations.”

Insp Nick Aitken of Lowestoft Central safer neighbourhood team, has been working towards establishing this initiative. He said: “Local officers will now liaise with the pastors and other partner agencies to continue to try to reduce violent crime in the town.”

The project has been funded jointly by Waveney Community Safety Partnership and Lowestoft Together.

A district council spokesman said: “The hope is that in the near future town pastors will patrol on Friday nights as well.

“They provide a positive influence in the area they cover, playing a pastoral role within the night-time economy through care, help, showing concern and assisting people where appropriate.”

The pastors range in age from early 20s to retired people.

All have undergone a five-week training programme in first-aid, drug and alcohol awareness, working practices and personal safety. They were commissioned at a service on Sunday at St Mark's Church, Oulton Broad.

A prayer team of 27 people from other churches will support the pastors.

Town pastors co-ordinator Tim Jenkins said: “We've been working for a few months now to get this up-and-running, and we are really excited about it.”

And Aaron, the youngest pastor, said: “I want to be a town pastor to help people who may be vulnerable whilst out enjoying themselves on a Saturday night and to help reduce crime.

“I want Lowestoft to be a safe place for people to enjoy themselves.”

Interested, as a committed Christian, in getting involved? Then call Tim Jenkins, on 07576 628457; email info@townpastors

lowestoft.org.uk

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