On Friday (25 January) a new scheme in Inverness will see trained Street Pastors on the streets offering support and care to people in the city centre between 10pm and 3am.
Inverness will initially have 22 Street Pastors who will work in teams of 4 every Friday from 10pm to 3am and initially also one Saturday per month. They will work in partnership with community groups, the Police and The Highland Council. Training started last August for the 22 volunteers who will be identifiable by their uniforms and ID badges.
The Street Pastors initiative started in the London Boroughs in 2003 as a direct response to increased violent crime and antisocial behaviour. Results showed marked improvements, so much so that the initiative is running in 55 locations around the UK, although this will be only the second to be set up in Scotland. Aberdeen launched their scheme a few months ago and Perth will be launched later this year.
Street Pastors Co-ordinator, Mark Hadfield said: “The volunteers are all unpaid people who care about Inverness and its people. They come from 11 different local churches in the area, representing a broad spectrum of denominations. The Street Pastor is there to get to know people in the community and to build relationships with them to find out their needs and what can be done for them.”
Welcoming the initiative during the launch at Inverness Town House on Thursday evening, Provost Bob Wynd said: “The national success of the scheme has shown it can make a positive difference to young people so I am delighted that Inverness will be introducing Street Pastors. Sometimes all people need is someone to listen and talk to them about any worries or concerns they have. This is a very practical way of reaching out and offering help from the pavements. The volunteers are to be admired for their commitment and I am sure the initiative will prove to be a success and our city centre will be safer and more peaceful at the weekends.”