Young revellers in Hastings flanked by three street pastors (left)Young revellers in Hastings flanked by three street pastors (left)

HASTINGS Street Pastors have something extra to celebrate as they mark their fourth birthday. For they’ve been asked by Sussex Police to patrol their town for an additional night.

The call came from Chief Inspector Paul Phelps. Street Pastors Co-ordinator Martin West said the high-ranking officer had requested they go out on Thursdays “to help support young revellers in the town centre for what is now being dubbed ‘Student Night’ in the town”.

Exploding myths

Martin explained that free admission and drink promotions draw college and university students towards the clubs and pubs. “The Street Pastors come across younger folk attracted by what’s on offer on ‘Student Night’,” he pointed out. “These young people often behave uncharacteristically.”

However, prayer plays a vital part as the resident “Prayer Pastor” team, back at their Wellington Square Church base, “call on the Lord to bring good out of bad”. Added Martin,”That’s what happens every time, as peace and safety are restored”.

Hastings Street Pastors have patrolled the town centre every weekend since February 2010. They have issued a handout called “Exploding the Myths” to help encourage more people to join their operation.

Friendly banter

In that document, Martin responds to various issues. Those include the thorny question many potential volunteers might well consider asking – “Isn’t it dangerous?”

On that question, Martin replied, “In four years we’ve had only one incident when a male member of one of our teams was slapped and this was quickly dealt with through the support of club doormen and members of the public, who expressed outrage that this had happened.

“It’s fairly rare to get verbal abuse. We do get our legs pulled with cries of ‘Street Pasties’ and similar – and we encourage this friendly banter. We believe we are protected through prayer and the Holy Spirit.”

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