THE FOUNDER of the Street Pastors will join local volunteers on the streets of Stratford next month .
Famous for their flip flops and lollipops, the Street Pastors have become a familiar sight in the town on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Rev Les Isaac will be guest speaker at an evening of celebration, worship and thanksgiving for the work of the Pastors on Saturday February 7, before heading out to offer help and support to anyone in need.
The Street Pastors’ initiative was launched in London in 2003 and there are now more than 280 teams across the country.
Esther Roberts and husband Steve set up the Stratford team in 2011 after moving to the town from Reading, and handed over the reins to Maureen Green last July.
In the past year the 20-strong team of volunteers has spent some 1,500 hours hours handing out almost 7,000 lollipops, 50 pairs of flip flops and talking with or supporting over 5,000 people – from rough sleepers to revellers the worse for wear.
The Pastors – who begin patrols at 8.30pm on Friday and some Saturday nights, and end around 3am – have built up a strong rapport with the police, door supervisors, taxi drivers and restaurateurs and are kept in touch and alerted to possible trouble through radio and CCTV contact.
“Street Pastors is about being part of the community, protecting people and demonstrating the love of Christ by bridge-building, offering a helping hand and a listening ear.” said Mrs Green.
“Despite recent night club closures, the need to keep people safe in our town in the evenings is still very much alive, although, happily, we don’t usually have the same issues with drugs and violent crimes that are experienced in some towns.”
The Rev Isaac was born in Antigua and was a Rastafarian involved in London’s gang scene before entering the ministry and working with the same “hard-to-reach communities” in which he grew up.
His desire to see Christians working more effectively within their society led to the formation of the first Street Pastor group in Lambeth. Since then 12,000 people have undergone training as pastors.
Awarded an OBE in the 2012 Birthday Honours list, he has written four books, the most recent of which, Faith on the Streets, recounts his early childhood and teenage years and also, through powerful stories and testimonies, tells of the positive impact of the Street Pastors.
The evening with Rev Isaac begins at 7pm at Holy Trinity Church and followed by refreshments at the Methodist Church across the road. All are welcome and admission is free.