Belfast Street Pastors seek volunteers

Tuesday September 3rd 2013

Street pastors at work.Belfast Street Pastors invite more people from the Church of Ireland and other Christian denominations to join them in the vital ministry they provide to the city’s young people.

Street Pastors are out on the streets of Belfast and Newtownabbey late on Friday and Saturday nights. They are there to care, to listen and to help anyone who needs their friendship or their assistance.

In Belfast city centre during 2012 Street Pastors prevented 28 assaults, gave assistance and advice to 339 people, handed out more than 400 pairs of flip flops to barefoot young women, prevented almost 30 assaults, helped more than 150 people get home and lifted nearly 5,000 discarded bottles and glasses.

Street Pastors are a cross denominational ministry which works in partnership with Belfast City Council and the PSNI. Trevor Betts is co–ordinator of Belfast Street Pastors.

“We are trying to encourage as many people from different churches to become involved,” said Trevor. “We have 30 volunteers and we would like to have 130. We only ask people to go out once a month and ideally we would have four teams made up of four members out every Saturday night.”

Street Pastors give out flip flops to barefoot girls late at night.All Street Pastors receive 50 hours of training and practical discipling on the streets. “Often there will have been too much drink taken, but people are mostly good natured and so appreciative of what we do. We offer basic first aid, give the girls flip flops, we carry water, and even sweets which can actually help calm a potentially violent situation.

“We are a positive presence. We do not preach at people although all our pastors are Christians. We talk to people and if they want to talk about issues Christian we are happy to discuss things with them. We also give them a card. But this is not about street evangelism.”

“This is about the church being out on the streets helping out in a positive, practical, caring way and as we do that we do get to talk to people and sometimes be a signpost to help them on the right way.”

Street Pastors are now recruiting new volunteers. Training sessions will run on six Saturdays over the coming months: September 14 and 28; October 12 and 26 and November 9 and 23.

Janet Hanna, a parishioner at Christ Church, Lisburn, is a Street Pastor in Belfast. “It’s good craic and you meet some real characters,” she said. “I can honestly say I have never felt threated on the streets. I have had only good experiences and most people just want to talk. I genuinely feel we are making a difference in people’s lives.”

Canon Neil Cutcliffe, rector of Mossley, is a member of Newtownabbey Street Pastors. “We are there to help kids and chat to them and make them feel they are valued,” he said.

“I would recommend anybody to give it a go. It strengthens the links between churches and individuals and it strengthens your own faith.”

Anyone who wants more information about Street Pastors or is interested in signing up for training should call 07516 230181 or email

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