Street Pastors' 'excellent' work rewarded
Dated: 16 Apr 2010
Newcastle's Street Pastors have received a special award from Northumbria Police's retiring Chief Constable Mike Craik.
They were handed the Northumbria Police Excellence Award for their partnership working with Newcastle Central's Neighbourhood Policing Team for helping keep weekend revellers safe.
And now they are turning their attention to helping the city's young people as they launch the Saturday Mission.
Newcastle's Street Pastors - all volunteers - go out every weekend to offer practical help and guidance to the city's thousands of partygoers.
They provide water and blankets to those vulnerable or drunk, carry a first aid kit and play their part in ensuring people - particularly vulnerable women - get home safely.
Their efforts have been so successful they were presented with the Excellence Award for working in partnership with Neighbourhood officers.
Now they've started the Saturday Mission - launched on Saturday April 10 - which sees them out and about in the city centre offering help and support to young people and helping find out what activities they'd like to see during the summer months.
Sam Douthwaite, the coordinator of the Street Pastor scheme, said: "We go out every Friday and Saturday night and our role is to offer practical help wherever we can to people who need it most - whether this is water, a blanket or even a pair of flip flops to women who've hurt their feet!
"We've also helped diffuse confrontational situations with a calming influence and help people get home safely. Essentially, we look after the people who aren't bad enough to have to go to a police cell or to hospital, but who we can't just confidently send on their way because they are vulnerable.
"We work closely with the local Neighbourhood team and research shows that more and more people are recognising us when we are out in town.
"We've now decided to extend our work to include the Saturday Mission. This involves patrols being carried out in the Old Eldon Square area and around the parks to engage with young people now the summer months are approaching.
"We'll be building up relationships and trust with the youngsters and will help support them with issues such as home life, schooling and social groups that we may be able to offer advice on.
"We'll also be working together with police and the youth workers from the city council to introduce summer activities to provide more to do for the youngsters."
Neighbourhood Sergeant Claire Lawson added: "We've worked closely with Street Pastors since they were first launched in Newcastle in 2008 and support their work by helping with training, patrolling jointly with them and enabling direct contact for when they need us.
"They are a valuable addition to all the links we have in the city centre and help free up police resources to help us make sure everyone in the city is getting the help they need and it remains a safe city for people to come and enjoy themselves.
"The new Saturday afternoon work will be a great value to the Neighbourhood Policing Team and the community. We're working together to provide summer activities such as live bands and events in the parks for young people to enjoy.
"We want young people to use the parks but in a considerate way where they think about other park users as well as themselves. Through both ourselves, council staff, and the Street Pastors being present in the park we'll be able to find out more about what the young people want and work with other agencies to provide it.
"The work the Street Pastors do is vital and they thoroughly deserve the award for their partnership working together with ourselves and we'll continue to build on the relationship we have with them."
Launched in Newcastle on December 12 2008 the Street Pastors are a partnership between the Churches in the city - with 55 Street Pastors from 22 different Churches.
The Saturday Mission is launched during Northumbria Police's 'It's good to know" campaign highlighting partnership working and how neighbourhood teams work closely with schools, councils and youth groups.