A TEAM of volunteers, who have become a familiar sight on the streets of Blackwood, are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the street pastor scheme this month.
The team of street pastors, who are members of local churches, have worked alongside Gwent Police, Caerphilly council and a number of other organisations every weekend over the past five years to promote community safety in Blackwood town centre.
The 25-strong team, who wear easily identifiable clothing, work along the town centre streets on Friday and Saturday nights. They promote personal safety, including encouraging people to take appropriate steps to ensure they do not become a victim of crime or disorder while under the influence of alcohol.
Each volunteer has attended a training programme prior to becoming a street pastor, which has assisted them in helping people suffering from alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental health issues and a range of other issues.
Reverend Sue Phillips, Blackwood Street Pastors Co-ordinator, said: “It has been a real privilege over the last five years to have been able to play our small part in helping to make Blackwood an even safer place to have a night out.
“We really enjoy our time out on the streets, and have always been met with very warm appreciation from the young and not so young people we encounter. We hope that we can continue to support the Safer Caerphilly After Dark initiative for many years to come.”
Safer Caerphilly After Dark brings together a number of different organisations including local taxi companies, takeaways, late night restaurants, pubs, door supervisors, and the street pastors, as well as Gwent Police and Caerphilly council.
David Poole, the council’s cabinet member for community and leisure services, called their contribution “phenomenal”.
Marc Budden, Superintendent for Caerphilly Local Policing Unit, added: “Having patrolled with the street pastors, I have witnessed first-hand how they can support and advise vulnerable people and reduce instances of anti-social behaviour and violent crime due to their presence. I fully endorse this initiative and we will continue to support them to make Caerphilly county borough a safer place after dark.”