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Bishop urges people to join team helping late-night revellers in need

PUBLISHED: 07:30 18 October 2018

Bishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison (centre) out with the Town Pastors in Ipswich town centre Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

Bishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison (centre) out with the Town Pastors in Ipswich town centre Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

Keith Mindham

A bishop has praised volunteers who provide invaluable support helping those in need late at night in towns across Suffolk – and is calling for more people to come forward.

Bishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison (centre) learning more about the work of the Town Pastors Picture: KEITH MINDHAMBishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison (centre) learning more about the work of the Town Pastors Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

Town pastors help to calm tensions when people have drunk too much alcohol and are struggling to return home from pubs and clubs.

Most of the town pastors are Christians from local churches who work alongside police, door staff and CCTV operators with the agreement of district councils to give support, listen to problems, offer advice, water and food to revellers.

Sometimes it is the simple act of giving a chocolate bar or water to those worse for wear that helps them.

There are ten schemes in Suffolk – Ipswich was the first to be introduced in 2006 and now there are also town pastors in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Lowestoft, Felixstowe, Stowmarket, Woodbridge, Haverhill, Sudbury and Leiston.

Bishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison (right) helping the Ipswich Town Pastors team in their work with people out on on the streets Picture: KEITH MINDHAMBishop of Dunwich Mike Harrison (right) helping the Ipswich Town Pastors team in their work with people out on on the streets Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

In 2017-18 the volunteers provided more than 11,000 man hours and made 18,018 direct interventions to help people

Town pastors provide non-judgemental pastoral care, irrespective of faith or background, and their work has been highlighted by the Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, who is calling for more volunteers to now join the organisation.

Bishop Mike accompanied town pastors in Ipswich two years ago during a night patrol – and now he has attended an annual gathering of town pastors in Woodbridge within the last few days (October 13).

Bishop Mike said: ‘‘Every Friday evening two pairs of town pastors go out in Woodbridge and find plenty of people who need their help.

‘‘At their annual gathering town pastors spoke of the ways they have built relationships and trust during the years, of some of the important moments helping individuals and of the potential hot spots, such as closing time at music venues.

“The town pastors are hugely appreciated by the police, local council and other agencies and seek to work in partnership with them.

“So impressed are other agencies that grants have been made to provide jackets, walkie talkies and other resources necessary to continue this vital volunteer work helping others, and making a difference.’’

Peter Plummer, coordinator of Woodbridge town pastors, said they had nearly 30 volunteers providing support in a variety of ways.

‘‘We have built up a very good relationship with folk in the town and a lot of people know what we are doing,’’ he said.

You can contact the Town Pastors in Suffolk via email, contact@townpastors.org.uk and visit their website.

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