Street PastorsMost of the time Bath's streets have a real 'party atmosphere' on a weekend night, but sometimes too much alcohol can cause real problems. Street Pastor Deborah Keiller, tells us why she's happy to join other Christians visiting clubs and the city's centre on a Friday and Saturday night.
"I have been part of the Street Pastor team in Bath for just over a year now - and what an adventure it has been! We are a bunch of around 60 Christians from more than 20 different churches taking it in turns each month, to go out as a small group on either a Friday or Saturday late at night to patrol the streets.
"As important as the team members are, we couldn't do what we do without the support of our Prayer Partners who pray from home but also at our base while we are out. If we didn't have the prayer cover we don't go out...it's as simple as that." says Deborah.
Launched in 2008, this Genesis backed project was inspired by a vision to share the practical love on Christ on the streets, shared by city centre Church ministers, Rob Trickey and Martin Lloyd-Williams in 2007.
The modus operandi for the Street Pastors is to support young people trying to have fun, yet getting themselves in very vulnerable situations. Volunteers patrol the streets in a team, working alongside the police, door staff and other agencies, listening, caring and helping those in need.
"On the whole we spend a lot of our time, as we walk from club to club talking with young people and reassuring those who are having a night out, that Bath is a safer place with our presence.
"More than once we have had a call through asking us to deal with a vulnerable young girl seperated from her friends..This obviously isn't a situation that the police have time or remit to deal with, whereas we have all the time in the world to talk and reassure the lost, cold and usually a little worse for wear!"
"One of my fondest memories was having the privelege to sit with a young girl - no older than my daughter as she slept off the effects of too much drink, before seeing her off in a taxi. If we hadn't been there she could have easily been spotted by someone less concerned for her welfare." Says Deborah.
Strongly supported by the Police and Banes council, District Police Commander Olivia Pinkney says: "We welcomed the commencement of the programme in Bath because there had been some anti-social behaviour in the area and the more eyes and ears out there, the better."
The Street Pastors linked up with the Ascension Trust, which oversees nearly 70 Street Pastors projects throughout the country initially.
Deborah says that being a Street Pastor isn't always a 'gloomy' business!
"We occasionally get mistaken for traffic wardens - often get asked for free hugs! And on one occasion were confused with the FBI!.. Honestly."
Do you want to be a Street Pastor in Bath? Or would you like to make a donation to this vital city project?