A new branch of Street Pastors working to help young people stay safe on the streets at night is to be set up in Coleraine.
Branches already exist in Belfast, Newtownabbey and Cork.
Leaders from eight churches across the denominations have now signed up to Street Pastors in Coleraine and have formed a management group, assuming responsibility for taking the project forward in the borough.
Training for the first batch of Street Pastors will begin in September, and will probably take place on Saturdays, starting on September 13.
An ‘Interest evening’ will be held on Thursday June 19 at 7.30pm in Cloonavin, and at this meeting anyone who hasn’t yet heard about Street Pastors can find out more, and anyone who is ready to volunteer can declare their interest, sign up for the September training and start the process of applying, getting a reference from their church leader, getting an Access NI check done and raising a contribution toward the cost of training and uniforms.
Barbara Brown, representative of Coleraine Street Pastors, said: “We presently have about 40 names of people who have expressed an interest in doing Street Pastors training, but we want to get the word out, so that nobody who has a heart for doing this work misses out.
“The training is thorough; it takes about 50 hours total, so it is not for the faint–hearted. Anyone who wants to be a Street Pastor will not be accepted unless they have a good reference from their church leader.”
Barbara added: “We as a management group are excited at how God wants to use Street Pastors in our area. It is great to have a partnership of many different churches working together, and even better that we can work in cooperation with local police and Coleraine Borough Council to bring help and support where it is much needed.
“In many other towns and cities across UK and beyond, the work of Street Pastors has caused levels of crime and antisocial behaviour to drop significantly, has made people feel safer and has given many vulnerable young people supportive connections with mature adults, who can show them the kindness of God.
“It is one more angle on working with God for His kingdom to come in our land!”
The work of the Street Pastors in Belfast and Newtownabbey featured in the October 2013 issue of the Diocese of Connor magazine Connor Connections. You can download a pdf of the article here.