Jul 22 2009 by Stephen Robertson, Stirling Observer Wednesday
STIRLING’S Street Pastors scheme, which offers advice, help and support to people on nights out in the city each weekend is being expanded.
The initiative, organised by an inter-denominational group of volunteers, has been on the city’s streets each Friday and on some Saturday nights since it was launched back in March of this year.
Staying in close contact with the police, up to 16 Street Pastors have been busy assisting those, for example, who may have had too much to drink or have been separated from their friends while on a night out.
A typical pastor shift generally runs from 10pm until 3.30am on a Friday and sometimes 4am on a Saturday – key times when Stirling’s pubs and clubs are emptying out.
So far, the Street Pastors have engaged with more than 800 people in the city centre including some vulnerable individuals requiring hospital treatment. They have also handed out close to 100 pairs of flip-flops to women seen walking in their bare feet and have helped to remove almost 200 glass bottles from Stirling’s streets.
Such has been the early success of the scheme, there are now plans to introduce another 12 volunteers to help out, with four training days already planned for the new arrivals.
James Mackenzie, co-ordinator for the Stirling Street Pastors, said that the scheme had been going well since it started in March and that he hoped that the new volunteers would lead to more nights being covered by the team.
James said: “We are planning to expand the service now that we have been up and running for a wee while.
“We will be looking to get the volunteers trained to plug some gaps that we have in our existing teams as one of our families are moving down south. We will be trying to do at least another Saturday a month.”
An information night held last month drew quite a bit of interest and James said that this was a really encouraging sign.
As for the progress of the scheme since its launch, James added that he was delighted with the way it had developed, with relationships with police and other agencies getting stronger all the time.
Reflecting on the past four months, James said: “As you can imagine, every night is different because you have different crowds of people coming into the city. You meet a range of folk.
“Some that have lost their friends in the city centre and are sleeping rough and there have been a few nights where we have discovered people who have perhaps had too good an evening for their own safety.”
On such occasions, the Street Pastors have been able to assist and help them find transport to get home safely.
Discussions are also taking place for the Street Pastors to have some involvement in this year’s safe base scheme, an initiative which worked successfully in Stirling city centre last Christmas, helping festive revellers to stay safe while on nights out.
The training of the new volunteers for the Stirling Street Pastors scheme gets underway towards the end of next month with the newly trained members of the team expected to take to the streets in September.