Armed with bottles of water, flip flops and a sympathetic ear, CH1ChesterBID ’s city centre manager Nick White recently joined up with a team of Chester ’s street pastors on an evening patrol of the city’s streets.
Dressed in their distinctive blue uniforms, the street pastors have been keeping a watchful eye over the city centre ’s night-time economy on Friday and Saturday nights for the best part of a decade.
With vital funding from CH1ChesterBID and others, the group is made up entirely of volunteers who provide assistance and care to members of the public, administering first aid, supporting vulnerable people and helping weekend revellers that may have had one too many drinks get home safely.
Nick said: “Our street pastors are the unsung heroes of Chester’s night-time economy; it was a privilege to spend the night patrolling the high street with them and see first-hand what a great job they do helping people in the city centre on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Chester’s evening economy is thriving and it’s fantastic to see so many people enjoying our bars and restaurants. Of course, that makes the role of our street pastors even more important, and we’re proud to support the work they do in our city centre.”
The street pastors initiative was started in London in 2003 by Ascension Trust, a Christian organisation who engage with people on the streets.
All Chester street pastors are trained volunteers from local churches who go out into the city-centre streets between 10pm-3.00am each Friday and Saturday night. They offer a listening-ear or practical help to those who need it.
With 35 volunteers now on the books, Chester’s team of street pastors has gone from strength to strength since being established in 2008.
Chester street pastors’ coordinator Mike Meynell said: “When we first established our Chester team I think a lot of people were quite suspicious of us but I think the majority of people now understand more about who we are and the role we play in Chester city centre.
“All of the street pastors are local people and members of a number of local churches who volunteer their time. They patrol the city centre during evenings and at the weekend to keep people safe and offer support to anyone who may be in need.”
Mike continued: “Chester is a great pace to live and work and I definitely feel as if the city has got a real buzz about it at the moment, with things like Storyhouse helping to put Chester at the front of people’s minds as a destination city. We want people to enjoy everything it has to offer and as street pastors, we just want to be there to provide support and assistance whenever people need it.”