A SCHEME which helps vulnerable drinkers who have had one too many is being rolled out into Tyneside due to its success.
The Street Pastors scheme has been running in Whitley Bay for a year and from this Sunday, the volunteers will be out on patrol distinctive uniforms in Tynemouth’s Front Street from 9pm to 1.30am.
In their first year, the pastors – made up of volunteers from Whitley Bay and surrounding areas and District Churches Together – have spoken to 6,954 people, handed out 399 pairs of flip-flops, issued 598 space blankets, 278 bottles of water, binned 3,163 discarded bottles and recently started patrolling on Thursday nights.
The pastors, who patrol in threes and take the time to talk to people often vulnerable after drinking alcohol, work alongside police and have radio contact with officers in case of emergency.
The initiative has been funded by North Tyneside Strategic Partnership, with a mobile van helping provide a safe haven for people who feel vulnerable.
Inspector Jim Gray, of Whitley Bay Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The Whitley Bay Street Pastors scheme has been a real success story.
“These volunteers have made a big impact and definitely had a calming effect on the behaviour of people drinking in Whitley Bay.
“The caring presence of the uniformed volunteers frees up officers to concentrate on preventing crime and disorder in the town.”
Inspector Geoff Cross, of North Shields Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We’re pleased the Street Pastors Scheme has been extended to take in Tynemouth.
“Sundays in the village are a popular night and we know they’ll be effective in helping some of our more vulnerable visitors.
“Officers are also reminding revellers to plan in advance how to get home safely, by pre-booking a taxi or arranging a lift home.
“To look after their friends and not to make themselves vulnerable by drinking too much, and risking their safety, or that of others.”
Revd Alan Dickinson, chair of Whitley Bay Street Pastors, said: “I am delighted by the achievements of Street Pastors in Whitley Bay this last 12 months.
“When we started the work of Street Pastors in 2011 we covered Saturday nights only, within six months we were patrolling Whitley Bay on Saturdays, Thursday nights and Bank Holidays and have taken delivery of our mobile Safe Place.
“Street Pastors has been greatly received by the night time economy in Whitley Bay and following the ongoing success in Whitley Bay, we have now been invited to cover the busy Tynemouth area on Sunday evenings.
“It is the aim of Street Pastors to help, care and listen, and we have been delighted with the support of the police, the local council and the churches. We are really excited about the future expansion of the project.”
Mayor Linda Arkley, who chairs the North Tyneside Strategic Partnership (NTSP), said: “The Street Pastors have done a fantastic job; they have become a real asset in Whitley Bay.
“On behalf of the council and the NTSP, I would like to thank the volunteers for all their hard work.
“I am delighted the scheme is being extended to Tynemouth and by doing so offering real help and support to people who need it.”