How does a frog-shaped chocolate bar help Town Pastors keep Suffolk's streets safe at night?
PUBLISHED: 15:47 22 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:47 22 June 2018
Town Pastors have reported on a year patrolling the night time streets of Suffolk, helping people in need and the "amazing" power of a humble chocolate bar.
Addressing a police meeting on Thursday, two pastors gave dramatic accounts of their work keeping people safe in towns across the county.
Jo Copsey told how pastors helped drunken revellers, supported vulnerable people and had been the first at the scene of an Ipswich stabbing, helping the victim and dealing with crowds.
In Bury St Edmunds, pastors found a “heavily intoxicated” and angry young man, sprawled out across the road. After preventing several fights with passers by, Ms Copsey said the pastors managed to calm the man and he started to talk about his troubles.
“He just needed someone to listen,” she added. “After an hour he was calm and was taken safely home. Had we not been there, the outcome could have been so much different. He would undoubtedly have been involved in a fight with one or more passers by, resulting in someone being injured and him having a criminal record.”
Pastor Tony Hodge gave further accounts including when pastors came to the aid of teenagers in Stowmarket, one of whom “flat-lined” after taking prescription medication.
The pastors have operated in Suffolk for 11 years and now patrol 10 towns, mainly on weekend nights, as well as special events including Latitude Festival. Their work involves providing “non-judgemental pastoral care, irrespective of faith or background”, handing out water and calming tensions.
But of all the tools at their disposal, a chocolate bar shaped like an anthropomorphic cartoon frog, is said to be their most beneficial. “Freddo bars are fantastic for distracting people who are likely to cause trouble,” Ms Copsey said. “They are an amazing tool - we’re known as the people who give out Freddo bars.”
The pastors’ report for 2017/18, identified 24,415 actions throughout the year, of which 18,018 involved helping people.
The report said their work made a “valuable contribution to the reduction of crime and disorder”.
Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore, who awarded £49,995 to the pastors, thanked then for their work.
“We are very grateful for what you do,” he said. “I don’t you could find a state run organisation that could match that.”