Street Pastors, an initiative of the Ascension Trust, has been helping churches work together ecumenically to provide pastoral support and community welfare for two decades, as it celebrates 20 years of service from itss inception in South London.
Mr Bejoy Pal the CEO of the Ascension Trust commented:
It’s such an encouragement to see how Street Pastors has grown over the past 20 years; and has encouraged churches to work together to support their local communities. Since joining the organisation in 2015, I’ve seen relationship, that our teams represent at all levels, is the key to the success of this work. From working with the local authorities, emergency services, community stake holders and members of the public; it’s always been about collaboration and working together for peace and safety.
Bejoy took over the running of the Ascension Trust in 2022 from Rev. Les Isaac (OBE) the founder, who started the organisation in 1993. It was a visit to Jamaica that encouraged Les to look at how the Church could help support the community. Struck by the work of Pastor Bruce Fletcher and the late Pastor Bobby Wilmott in Trench Town, Jamaica, it was how they engaged with gang leaders and the community by walking the streets and listening and praying with them, that inspired the vision for Street Pastors.
Learning from these two Church ministers, Les brought this back to the UK and into his front room with Rev David Shosanya and Ian Crichlow, and together the structure and framework for Street Pastors was made into a reality.
On 18th April 2003, The Ascension Trust launched Street Pastors in Brixton, and sent 18 trained volunteers from the local church community, onto the streets to patrol between the hours of 10pm – 4am to help those who were engaging with the Night Time Economy (NTE) be safe. The ethos behind the work is to care, listen and help, and to do so without judgement.
On the 18th April 2023, another Street Pastor patrol will be held in Lambeth, to say thank you to the community where it all started, for supporting the work, but also as a recognition of the growth both nationally and internationally over the past 20 years.
Since its inception, Street Pastors has trained over 20,000 volunteers to serve their local communities.
There are currently 240 SP teams across villages, towns and cities all over the UK, and 10 internationally in the Republic of Ireland, USA, Antigua Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Nigeria and Gibraltar.
Street Pastors work has helped provide safety for vulnerable women and men, administered first aid to those in need and prevented many incidents from requiring emergency responses, reduced levels of anti-social behaviour, removed weapons from the streets and have been a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on and a pastoral presence to many members of the communities in which they serve.
The patrol on the 18th April 2023 will be concluded with a civic service at St Matthew’s Church, Brixton Hill, from 7pm-8pm with encouragements from community leaders.