The initiative of Street Pastors has been under active development by the Neighbourhood Police Team of Billingshurst in co-ordination with the Billingshurst churches for two and a half years.
Funding by Sussex Police with the local churches has allowed the initiative to come to fruition with an Inauguration Service which was held at Trinity United Reformed Church on Friday September 28.
Over 50 people attended the service which included endorsements from Police, church leaders and the Chairman of the Billingshurst Parish Council and which included a presentation by Alison Murray from the Ascension Trust, the governing charity which set up Street Pastors initially nationwide in 2003 but now with branches worldwide.
The Inauguration Service was an important stage in the setting up of the Billingshurst Street Pastors initiative where the licence agreement was formally agreed between the Ascension Trust and the local churches, and for local church members to register their interest in becoming Street Pastors so training can commence.
Street Pastors are a non-denominational church led group of volunteers who assist those in need by having a street presence. Supported by Police they offer reassurance and a highly visible presence at different times of the day within their local communities.
Street Pastors in Billingshurst will be the first scheme of its kind in the Horsham District.
Street Pastors have proved successful nationally and in other areas of Sussex. Street Pastors will be easily recognisable in Billingshurst as they will wear distinctive blue jackets and baseball caps with the ‘Street Pastors’ logo emblazoned on the casual looking uniform.
The group is expecting to be out on the streets helping the public in the new year.