Work of street pastors enlightens probus group

Mike Webb enlightened Aboyne Probus club members on the activities of the Aberdeen Street Pastors at a recent meeting.

Those in attendance were amazed that between 15,000 and 20,000 revellers hit the streets of Aberdeen every Friday and Saturday night, with the majority of those on or around Union Street.

Aberdeen Street Pastors are an interdenominational church initiative that endeavours to respond positively to the issues facing the city centre and those that visit it at night.

Pastors are involved in offering one to one non judgemental support, a shoulder to cry on, a safe passage home, first aid if required and a quiet place to have a chat in their “Safe Space” vehicle which is normally parked in Belmont Street. The vast majority of revellers just want to have a good time but occasionally things go slightly adrift and the Pastors are on hand to defuse a situation or to offer help in a practical way. For example 800 pairs of Flip Flops have been handed out to save young ladies in walking around barefoot when they are little unstable on top of high heels. The teams on the streets are not a police substitute but work closely with them offering a different skill set demanded of particular situations which has been increasingly successful since their introduction in Aberdeen.

Mike gave a brief overview of the history of the Pastor movement which has grown quickly from it’s beginnings on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica in 2001 where such was the success of the operation in reducing the incidence of violence by talking and establishing relationships with gangs that it was introduced to Brixton in 2003 with 18 pastors, 16 of whom were women, and here too the interaction with gangs was seen to be a positive influence on the behaviour of people on the streets. Aberdeen, the first city in Scotland to have a Pastor movement, has 80 volunteers to call on and teams of no less than three are out on the streets of the city on Friday and Saturday between the hours of 10pm and 4am.

Following questions from the floor when members also reminisced on licensed premises closing at 9:30pm with barely the price of a pint in their pockets David Allan, drawing on his experience in the police force, gave an encouraging appraisal of the work carried out by the movement and a sincere vote of thanks to Mike on behalf of the members.

The next meeting of the club is on Tuesday, December 11 in the Victory Hall Aboyne when Aboyne member Cairns Smith will speak on the ‘World Health Organisation’. All retired gentlemen are welcome.