In the summer issue of The Express, the Copers Cope Residents’ Association publication (copies in the porch) there is an article, reproduced below by kind permission, on the work of the Street Pastors who each weekend help to keep the people in the centre of Beckenham safe from harm. If you would be interested in joining this ecumenical group from local churches please get in touch with Fr Steve for more information.
Most Friday evenings you will see a number of volunteers out on Beckenham High Street up to the early hours of 1 or 2am. They wear high-vis uniform supplies of water, thermal wraps and flip-flops to help people who have “over-indulged” in alcohol. As alcohol affects our bodies we can become less aware, less responsive and maybe more aggressive – but basically more vunerable. So, in the Beckenham High Street area, where there is a concentration of pubs, bars and clubs, these special volunteers look out for vunerable people and offer them help. They are volunteers from local Christian Churches and hence are known as street pastors.
Street Pastors started 15 years ago in Brixton, then a Bromley team was set up in 2005. these volunteers, mainly in their later years, undergo thorough training over eight weekends. They have the support of the Metropolitan Police and Bromley Council. Although they do not preach, they are happy to talk about their faith or personal issues, if asked.
Street Pastors make visitors feel safe and welcome, offering directions and guidance. They can also act as a neutral party to calm down potentially difficult situations, often avoiding the need for police attendance. In the current financial climate when police cannot provide the boots on the ground to patrol throughout the evening as they used to in previous years, not only does the Pastors’ high-vis presence act as a beacon for people to go to when they require assistance, it provides a warning light for people who may be thinking of causing trouble.
The Street Pastors are a valuable resource for Beckenham’s night time economy. By helping so many people they have made Beckenham a safer and happier place. The Purple Flag Team is very grateful for the generous gift of their time and expertise. But they do need more volunteers. If you attend a local Christian Church and would be willing to volunteer your time for some evenings are weekends, talk to your priest of vicar about joining up.
Street Pastors Website: CLICK HERE