Street Pastors

They’re out at 4am, battling extreme weather, tending to homeless people and looking after those who’ve had one too many – and now Wolverhampton Street Pastors are in the running for a top award.

The volunteers give up their free time to patrol the city centre between 9.30am and 4am every weekend. They give out blankets, food and support to the homeless, offer water to people who have had too much to drink, give flip-flops to girls struggling with their high heels and generally make sure the streets are safe and clubbers are getting home OK.

The group is now in the running for the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s Outstanding Community Project award at next month’s Outstanding Citizens ceremony.

Street pastor Matthew Wragg said: “We are a religious organisation of all denominations and we want to serve the community with heart and kindness.

“We don’t evangelise – we motivate and really enjoy conversations with people. We act as mentors but also do practical things like offer water and flat shoes. We work alongside the homeless, door staff, police officers. We talk to people struggling and ask them about their lives, talk to them about their family issues and point them in the right direction if they’re struggling with housing or addiction issues.

“The feedback is incredibly positive. We’ve been doing it for a few years now and people always tell us ‘you guys! You’re awesome! You helped me get a taxi that one time or you helped my friend’. Sometimes we’re out from 9pm until 5am or 6am. Many of us do a day’s work beforehand too so it can take its toll. But when you’re out you don’t notice the time, it flies past and the feedback makes it all worthwhile.

“We work to prevent incidents from happening in the first place so the emergency services can tackle the priorities. For example, we’ll try to calm potentially violent situations down if someone’s been thrown out of a pub so the police don’t have to be called or we will remove broken glass from the street to stop the paramedics being called. If people are newly homeless and frightened, we point them in the direction of support services and give them a few supplies to tide them over, sleeping bags etc. We offer a helping hand. There are around 20 of us and we are slowly increasing our numbers.

“It was lovely to be nominated, a fantastic feeling. We really appreciate the recognition.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “The awards are our chance to say ‘thank you’ to those people who make the West Midlands a better place.

“I am in awe of the wonderful work the Wolverhampton Street Pastors do. They give up their time during the most anti-social of hours to make the city a safer and more welcoming place. Well done to each and every one of them – they are a credit to the West Midlands.”

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