THE INTRODUCTION of Street Pastors in Newport helped bring some extra support to the city’s streets.

Hailed a success by the revellers themselves and the police, ALISON SANDERS joined a team of Street Pastors for a typical Friday night to see what they do.

ARMED with a bag of flip flops, bottles of water and a first aid kit, it is perhaps incomprehensible to many as to why a group of Newport residents would want to spend their Friday and Saturday nights walking around Newport city centre trying to help those enjoying Newport’s nightlife.

As with any other British city or town, Friday and Saturday nights are often the most popular nights of the week for people to enjoy a night on the town.

This is where Street Pastors come in simply because they want to help people and dedicate their time for free.

Initiated in Jamaica in 2001 the Street Pastor Scheme was a Christian response to violent crime.

The first UK scheme was launched in Brixton in 2003 and has since been hailed a success in more than 60 other towns and cities in the UK.

Newport Street Pastors started on August 1 and is made up of 21 street pastors aged between 20 and 70, from nine local churches.

The aim was for the Street Pastors to help make Newport a safer place at night by helping people under the influence of alcohol before they can cause trouble or hurt themselves.

Dressed in their distinctive uniforms, a group of between three and five Street Pastors go out each Friday and Saturday night at around 10.30pm.

Amazingly they work until about 4am with breaks every two hours at Bethel Community Church in Stow Hill, which acts as their base.

Other members are on hand there for support as well as a prayer team.

All of the Street Pastors underwent training to enable them to help those who have been drinking, or who have become separated from their friends, and to prevent people from getting into trouble or becoming a victim of crime.

When I joined the Newport Street Pastors on a Friday night in November, I saw how grateful people were for their help.

The Street Pastors were briefed at the start of their shift by police officers about how busy the city centre was that night.

The group of four pastors then walked through the city centre, sticking to roads monitored by Newport’s CCTV centre and always made sure they kept together.

Street Pastor Les Tuckwell, 64, had a radio link to the CCTV centre which informed him of where situations might need their assistance.

He said people often ask for directions or are upset because they have lost their friends.

He said: “We find out what’s wrong and try to get them in touch with their friends or arrange a taxi. The main objective is to keep them safe.”

Mr Tuckwell said they have never seen anything particularly bad but have seen a lot of arrests and some people punched.

On the Friday night I joined the Street Pastors, two people were arrested outside one Newport nightclub in the space of an hour.

The Street Pastors have had great feedback from people they have helped with messages of thanks on their Facebook page.

Mr Tuckwell said they helped one woman get to hospital after she fell out of a taxi and had a gash to her knee.

She contacted them the following week to say thank you.

Gill Ford said she jumped at the chance to be a Street Pastor as she thought it was so needed in Newport to make people feel safe.

She said: “We all get a buzz from it because it’s so valued and appreciated.”

She said no Street Pastor has ever been hurt and said this is because they are non-threatening.

Ms Ford said people have got know they are there and feel reassured.

Mr Tuckwell said they never put themselves in danger and do not have the authority to break up fights.

They have had basic first aid training which they have often have to give out.

On my Friday night with the Street Pastors they spent almost an hour trying to help a young girl who was having trouble with her breathing after having a panic attack outside a nightclub.

They also came across a 19-year-old man who had only been airlifted to hospital a few days before and was feeling unwell whilst out in Newport.

Mr Tuckwell said they often wonder what happened to people after they have helped them.

But added: “We can’t keep worrying about them because we’ve got to get on with the next situation.”

The work of the Newport Street Pastors was also praised by Inspector Bob Thompson from Gwent Police.

He said: “We can’t be everywhere and they provide a service when we are restricted.”

For more information about the Street Pastors, see