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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 16:11 UK
Sunderland street pastors hit the streets
(left to right) Reverend David Burke, Reverend Martin Anderson and Colin Fozzard pictured with Acting Inspector Michael Hall from the City Centre Neighbourhood Police team and Chair of Pubwatch Elaine Griffiths
The pastors are trained to help police and club owners diffuse tension

There's nothing new about helping people in need on the street - although many of us might fear getting involved.

The Good Samaritan lead the way 2,000 years ago and the world has been littered with small kindnesses ever since.

But, for seven years now, Street Pastors have been taking a coordinated approach.

Since 2003 they've been setting up groups around the country who spend their weekend evenings helping people who've taken their's too far.

Newcastle's pastors started work in December 2008 and now Sunderland's volunteers are putting their best flip-flop forward.

These - very handy for ladies who're the worse for wear and finding their perilous heels too much - are just one item in the night-out survival kits carried by the pastors.

Pastor Reverend David Burke
Pastor Reverend David Burke has a great way with words for the public

They also offer chocolate to boost energy and water to reduce dehydration.

In some areas the pastors hand out personal attack alarms and condoms.

Without judgement or criticism

Twelve sessions of training in conflict management, counselling, basic first-aid and working with the police have left these volunteers able to help police and pub and club owners diffuse potentially explosive situations.

All members of local churches, they range from 18-year-old students through to a 74-year-old retired teacher.

Colin Fozzard runs the Sunderland Street Pastors as a volunteer and stresses they'll be offering help without judgement or criticism.

He says: "This is maybe pointing someone to the taxi rank or bus stop, helping give first-aid to an injured person, or just helping resolve a situation by taking the time to sit down and talk to someone."

Reverend Sandy Scrimgeour speaking at the Comissioning of Street Pastors at Sunderland Minster
The Commissioning Service in the Sunderland Minster was the start of it all

Although it's their faith that has lead these volunteers onto the night-time streets, and they will happily explain their reasons, Colin says: "All we want to do is help people when they are perhaps at their most vulnerable and in need of someone to talk to.

"Street Pastors are not there to preach, but to show acts of kindness."

The first 40 volunteers were officially recognised by the Church as Street Pastors in a ceremony at Sunderland Minster on Friday, 9 July 2010.

They are now on patrol in Sunderland city centre from 10pm until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights.




SEE ALSO
Increase in street pastor numbers
05 Aug 09 |  Tyne
Christian street pastor at 80
03 Feb 09 |  England

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