Bury Town Pastors are celebrating 10 years of Town Pastors in Bury St Edmunds with a Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, 2.30pm at St Mary’s Church.
During the service the Town Pastors will be presented with a St Edmundsbury Councillor Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community by Julia Wakelam, the member for Risbygate Award. During her year as Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Julia spent a night with the Town Pastors observing their work.
She said: “I was both impressed and deeply moved by the Town Pastors’ commitment and dedication to those who need help at night. Where others might walk on by, the Town Pastors offer non-judgemental support and comfort to vulnerable people. Their work makes the streets of our town safer for all. They richly deserve this award”
In 2007, Dave Rollett had a passion to see volunteers from local churches helping people who found themselves in difficulties on their night out. A group of people representing a number of local churches came together and, with help and guidance from Ipswich Town Pastors, Bury Town Pastors was established.
Since May 2, 2008, Town Pastors have been patrolling the club/bar areas of the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights between 10pm and 4am, wearing Hi-Vis yellow coats and navy blue caps or hats. Town Pastors are always supported in prayer while they are out on the streets.
Currently, Bury Town Pastors have 95 volunteers from over 30 local churches; 35 Town Pastors and 60 Prayer Team members.
Co-ordinator, Jo Copsey said: “I would like to extend a huge ‘thank-you’ to all those people who have been involved as Town Pastors or Prayer Team members over the last 10 years.”
Town Pastors help to make the town a safer place by providing a friendly presence, in a non-judgemental and non-confrontational way. They seek to be a positive presence on the streets, available to offer support to vulnerable people and de-escalate potential trouble. Town Pastors are able to offer assistance to those who are feeling the effects of having had a drink or two (or more!) and if possible, help people to find a way to get home safely. They are also very well known for giving out bottled water and Freddos.
On a Friday or Saturday night, you will often hear a cry of ‘there are the Freddo people’, ‘my friend needs a bottle of water’ or ‘can I have a Freddo?’!
Superintendent Kim Markus Warner (Western Area Commander, Suffolk Constabulary) says: “I never fail to be impressed by the dedication and commitment of the Town Pastors. It takes exceptional people to be prepared to work voluntarily during anti-social hours within the Night Time Economy, identifying and interacting with people who are often isolated, intoxicated, and vulnerable.
“While it is undoubtedly the role of the police to protect the public, we cannot be everywhere at once, and so the pastors provide much needed help and support. Without question their intervention helps protect the most vulnerable in society, and I am enormously grateful for all they do.”