The Andover Street Pastors this week celebrated more than five years of holding late night patrols to help keep Andover’s streets safe and happy. At a special anniversary service on Wednesday night, they were joined by the founder of Street Pastors, Rev Les Isaac OBE, to recognise their years of neighbourhood outreach and to commission new Street Pastor volunteers to go out into the community.
Just over half a decade ago the first Street Pastors Patrol began work in Andover, with 11 volunteers going out to patrol around Andover’s bars and nightclubs, offering practical help and support to the people they meet. Since then, Andover’s Street Pastors have completed over 300 patrols and made contact with over 12,000 people, from calming aggressive situations and supporting vulnerable people to handing out lollipops and bottles of water. The volunteers have also been a welcome sight to those with aching feet struggling to walk home: since 2010 they have handed out over 1,200 pairs of flip flops.
The Diocese of Winchester supports Street Pastor patrols similar to the Andover team in towns and cities across the Diocese. Each week, in Southampton, Winchester, Eastleigh, Basingstoke, Chandler’s Ford, Hedge End and Bournemouth, volunteers head out at night to offer reassurance, safety and support to their communities.
In Andover, the Street Pastors are coordinated by Barry Wadhams, who has been involved in Andover Street Pastors since the very start. The anniversary ceremony was also an occasion to remember his wife Bev Wadhams, one of the founding members of Andover Street Pastors and a popular volunteer coordinator who passed away from pancreatic cancer last October.
Barry Wadhams said: “22 April would have been Bev’s birthday, so it’s very appropriate that at this time we’re celebrating the amazing work that she and all of Andover’s Street Pastors have done over the last five years. We’re so proud to be able to go out on patrol every week, offering people a friendly face and a helping hand. It’s fantastic that Rev Les Isaac joined us to give a new set of volunteers their Street Pastors caps: we’re looking forward to the future and to continuing this great work for Andover.”
Rev Les Isaac said: “I was so glad to celebrate Andover Street Pastors and their five years of helping their community. The great work of Street Pastors patrols like this one in Andover really shows that the Church continues to be spiritually relevant and continues to offer practical help. Our mission, and the mission of the wider Church, is to be there for people all year round, not just at Christmas or Easter, and people are becoming really switched on to our message.”
The Right Reverend David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke, said: “It’s right that we’re recognising the fantastic work that has been done by the Andover Street Pastors over the last five years. These dedicated volunteers are an inspiration and a great example of the things that Christians are doing right across the Diocese for the benefit of their communities.”