It is good to know there are strangers who care

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Zella had a fantastic day at Titchfield Haven and wonders what other local gems she's overlooked      Picture: Gary Taw

ZELLA COMPTON: Looking afresh at our beautiful spot in the world

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There are times when we could all do with a shoulder to lean on.

And at the end of a long night of partying, having someone to watch your back might be all the more welcome.

Of course it’s never a good idea to go out and get so drunk that you put yourself in a vulnerable position.

But when people are in high spirits and having a good time, it’s all too easy to let over-exuberance take over.

And that’s when the street pastors really come in to their own.

They have now become such a familiar sight in Gosport that revellers have dubbed them the flip-flop brigade, thanks to their habit of coming to the rescue of those who find their high heels a little hard to handle at the end of the night.

Dishing out pairs of flip-flops is a novel and fun solution to what’s clearly a common problem.

These volunteers have already prevented 379 women from stumbling home barefoot, dodging broken glass and rubbish on their way.

And it’s not just practical footwear that they administer either. They also provide blankets, pick up discarded bottles and call taxis or relatives for those who are in a particularly vulnerable state.

While the police play their own part in patrolling our streets at night, there are some people who will find the uniform they wear a barrier.

The pastors who take to the streets of Gosport, Portsmouth and other night spots across our area aren’t figures of authority, just strangers who care enough to see that everyone gets home safe.

We all have a role to play in looking after each other and a responsibility to take charge of our own personal safety.

But when things do go wrong – and let’s not kid ourselves, they they will from time to time – it’s reassuring to know that there are people there to pick up the pieces.

Sometimes, that means handing out flip-flops.

And on other occasions it might mean a pastor gives up their own time to ensure that someone they’ve never met before manages to get home safely.