Starting the 27th May 2011, Hartlepool will have its own team of town pastors patrolling the Church Street area of the town each Friday and Saturday evening. Volunteers will work between 10pm and 3am within the night-time environment offering help and support to those who are vulnerable or in need.
The initiative is one of 75 ‘Street Angels’ projects throughout the UK. Stockton was the first area in Cleveland to launch the scheme in December 2009 and Middlesbrough was the second. The project aims to make a contribution to the safety and wellbeing of the public, to befriend the community and to help those who find themselves marginalised and vulnerable.
The project is very much a partnership approach with support from agencies under the banner of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership. It also has the backing of a number of churches in Hartlepool across a range of denominations.
Chief Inspector Kath Prudom from Cleveland Police, said: “Hartlepool Town Pastors is an extremely valuable initiative, which will offer additional support and guidance to those who visit Hartlepool’s vibrant night-time economy. A great deal of planning has gone in to ensure that the project is as successful as it can be and we hope that people coming into the town embrace the scheme.”
All volunteers are over 18yrs and undergo comprehensive training and work in teams of three when they are on patrols wearing high-visibility jackets. Each volunteer has been through an enhanced CRB check and conflict management training.
Their operating base is the Elim ‘Living Waters’ Pentecostal Church in Whitby Street, where a café will be open to those wishing to take advantage of a safe haven away from the hustle and bustle of Church Street.
The motivation as a primarily Christian project is to bring God's love to all people, without judgement and regardless of circumstance; and a warm welcome is extended to all volunteers wishing to take part in the project; not only those from local churches but to others who share a desire to help others and are willing to undergo training.
The project manager, the Reverend Colin Sawtell of the Elim Church said: “We are pleased to be able provide help, support and friendship to the local community, and we will be offering a caring presence during the night-time environment to those in need or who find themselves vulnerable.”
The project falls under the national umbrella of the Christian Nightlife Initiatives (CNI) charity, website: www.cninetwork.org.uk
If you would like to know more about the Hartlepool project, wish to apply to become a volunteer, or to support in financially or in prayer, please contact Colin Sawtell on Tel: 07828 093 728.