You may have seen them around Shrewsbury late at night with their distinctive Street Pastor uniform. Street Pastors work with pub and club door staff, the police and the ambulance service to make communities safer at night. We joined the Shrewsbury team, run by the super enthusiastic Steve Jones, on the night that they christened their bus, the Donkey. The evening starts with a short team prayer before heading out onto the streets. Friday and Saturday night in Shrewsbury is party night. On the whole it’s friendly and it’s fun but it stops being fun if you drink or take drugs until you are senseless; then you become a problem and you may become extremely vulnerable particularly if you are a woman. Throw up in a pub or club and, understandably, they will ask you to leave, if you are covered in vomit the taxis, understandably, don’t want you in their cab and friends, sort of understandably, don’t always stick around to make sure you are taken care of.
That’s where Street Pastors step in. The club and pub door staff call them up on the CB radios, the Street Pastors come along, make an assessment, call an ambulance if necessary and, more often, stay around while the person they are attending to recovers. They may call the person’s home to arrange collection and will stick around until they know the person is safe. The “Donkey” now means that people can be looked after and given coffee in a warm and dry bus and it gives the volunteers a place to regroup and recharge their batteries.
Street Pastors is a wonderful example of the voluntary sector, supported by the Police and Crime Commission, working with agencies like the police and ambulance service and the pubs and clubs of Shrewsbury to make Shrewsbury a safe place at night, especially for young and often very vulnerable young people. They help reduce costly hospital admissions and save valuable police time.