VALIANT volunteers have been honoured for their selfless dedication in helping to make Portsmouth’s streets safer.
Superintendent Maggie Blyth last night praised the tireless work of Portsmouth Street Pastors during an event to mark the latest volunteers to formally commission into the citywide group.
Supt Blyth, who took up the role of leading Portsmouth’s entire police force earlier this year, said the pastors provided an ‘invaluable service’ to the city and to her officers.
The former school teacher-turned-law-enforcement-chief said the group was a crucial ‘partner’ with the force and the city council.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the Portsmouth’s latest pastors, at the Oasis Centre, in Arundel Street, Landport, Supt Blyth said: ‘Our job is about reducing harm, harm that strikes our community in Portsmouth and crime that is blighting many of us.’
She said there had been a rise in crimes that take place ‘behind people’s front doors’ – child abuse and domestic violence – the fallout of which Supt Blyth said street pastors often dealt with, in one way or another.
She added: ‘We have a range of priorities in trying to keep Portsmouth safe. We can only do that and continue to do that with the support you give my officers and the fantastic work you do in the city.’
Street pastors have been operating in Portsmouth since 2010.
Volunteers roam the streets at night in an effort to protect the vulnerable, from the drunken to the homeless.
But the organisation,which was founded in London in 2003, has since branched out.
It now provides volunteers in schools and specially trained ‘response pastors’ who can comfort those following major traumas.
Recently, teams of response pastors were called upon to support the family and friends of victims killed or wounded in the Manchester terror attack in 2017.
Last night saw eight new street pastors being commissioned, alongside three school pastors, 10 response pastors and 12 prayer pastors.
Ben Griffiths, 35, of Portsmouth was among those to be presented with his response pastor commissioning certificate by Reverend Les Isaac, founder of the movement.
Ben, who was called to help in the wake of the tragic Leicester shop blast which killed five people in March, said he was proud of his work but added: ‘This isn’t about me and what I do here, this is about what we do as a collective group.’