Billinge church gets behind street pastors scheme

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A leading figure at a Billinge church is behind a scheme to bring street pastors to the region.

Steve A’hearne hopes to lead a new army of volunteers will soon be heading out into a North West town centre to help people at night.

Billinge Family Church

Billinge Family Church

Street Pastors have the aim of helping revellers who have had one too many by providing water or flip flops support and advice or calling a taxi or parent.

Their aims range from moving bottles and glass to prevent injury, to helping people who have become vulnerable, including the homeless, and even to just listening to someone who is having a tough time.

The Street Pastor scheme is a Christian organisation and is already in operation in a number of towns across the UK and will launch in Wigan later this year.

The latest operation will be rolled out first in Wigan operation but it is hoped the scheme can be extended to other areas, including St Helens.

Steve A’hearne, a coordinator for Wigan Street Pastors and a trustee representing Billinge Family Church, said: “We intend to patrol the town centre between 10pm and 4am Friday and Saturdays, hail, rain sunshine or snow.

“Street Pastors patrol once per month on rota in teams of four. We’re more than just giving out flip flops - sometimes our job can be as simple as moving bottles and glasses to prevent injury, staying with someone who has become vulnerable until a family member collects them.

“We may just be listening to someone who has had a tough time recently and being available to show interest and listen can make all the difference.

“Whilst on patrol it will also gives us the opportunity to support and offer care for the homeless and the team are really excited about being out and about in the community.

“All the Street Pastors will be provided uniforms, equipment and extensive training before they take up a patrols to ensure they and any members of public they come into contact remain safe.”

Despite the Wigan operation not having launched yet, the Street Pastors already have a number of volunteers, but they need more.

Steve continued: “We already have a number of people who havecome forward to volunteer as Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors from the various denominations of Wigan borough church community - but we really need more.

“The meeting will be a chance to find out what’s going on in Wigan, meet the trustees and ask questions so why not pop in for a chat?”

The project has been backed by a number of people including Wigan Council’s chief executive Donna Hall. Wigan’s Methodist churches and Anglican church have representatives on the board of trustees, which is chaired by Mike Lewis from The Salvation Army.