Inverbervie Probus Club re-convened on Tuesday, September 3.
A fascinating presentation was given by Rob and Gwen Denning of Aberdeen Street Pastors.
In the UK, Street Pastors was founded in London by Rev. Les Isaacs in 2003.
There are now in excess of 11,000 street pastors, all unpaid volunteers, in over 240 locations operating in UK Cities. They are aged from 18 years with no upper age limit. Each volunteer undergoes twelve training sessions, covering a variety of appropriate subjects, before becoming a street pastor. Aberdeen was the first city in Scotland to have a team of pastors. Now they are present in 17 Scottish cities.
They are an interdenominational church initiative trying to respond positively to the issues facing our city centre and those who visit it at night. These are often young men and women who may have consumed excessive quantities of alcohol and perhaps struggle to control their temper or can’t make their way home unaided.
Street pastors don’t profess to have all the answers but want to play their part in trying to diffuse potential harmful situations and show that they care.
In Aberdeen, they operate in teams of nine to 12 split into groups of three patrolling the city centre streets on Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm to 4am. To supplement their work there is also a “Safe Place” parked in Belmont Street providing a raft of support ranging from warm drinks and first aid to giving help and advice for those suffering the effects of alcohol or finding themselves feeling vulnerable or simply wanting someone the talk too. They even provide flip-flops to ladies who may have gone out in the evening with a pair of fashionable high heeled shoes but, perhaps owing to their consumption of alcohol, are somewhat unsteady on their feet and liable to injure themselves on the trudge home.
This Safe Place is a Converted 7.5 tonne NHS unit, launched with the support of, among others, RS Occupational Health, Chivas Brothers and Aberdeen’s Business Improvement District, at a cost of around £40k.
The presence and commitment of the street pastors in association with the police, has helped reduce the city centre weekend crime rate by approximately 85%
A team of School Pastors has recently been introduced to the pupils of a local secondary school; making themselves available at lunch times, getting alongside and helping young people develop positive attitudes towards life style decisions.