CHRISTIANS from Portsmouth’s churches will offer a listening ear to pupils – as school pastors.
The initiative, which allows volunteers to support young people in schools, is now being launched in Portsmouth.
Similar schemes already exist in Gosport and on the Isle of Wight.
And the first pupils to benefit will be those in Charter Academy, which is a Church of England secondary school. Christian volunteers will be available from September at lunchtimes to chat with students about any issues on their minds.
It builds on the work of street pastors, who provide support and practical help late at night for those who go to pubs and clubs.
Christians started to offer support to late-night revellers in Guildhall Walk in 2007 and now also patrol each week in Albert Road, Southsea.
Sandra Morgan, from Christ Church, Portsdown, has been appointed as the co-ordinator for school pastors in Portsmouth. She was previously vice-principal at Charter Academy until 2011, and helps to lead assemblies at Purbrook Infant School. She is also a street pastor in Portsmouth.
She has invited anyone interested to find out more to come to North End Baptist Church, Powerscourt Road, at 2.30pm on Wednesday, April 27. Sandra said: ‘There are teenagers who have low self-esteem, who are self-harming, and who are having problems with family situations who just need someone to talk to.
‘I know from my time working in schools that teachers haven’t always got the time to help pupils as much as they would like with personal issues. But schools recognise that school pastors can make a difference, and so they are happy to invite them in.
‘We’re going to pilot school pastors at Charter Academy, coming in at lunchtime and getting to know pupils in the canteen or the playground. It’s about having a light-hearted chat – not necessarily deep conversations all the time. And we’re not there to solve problems, just to listen. It’s inter-denominational, so we hope to recruit from all Portsmouth’s churches. But we also want people who can commit themselves to being around for a while, as it takes time to build up good relationships.
‘There will be full training given before we start to go into the school in September.
For more details about school pastors, visit schoolpastors.org.uk. For details of the Portsmouth School Pastors initiative, contact Sandra Morgan on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07722 377850.