Now an appeal has been launched to join the ranks of Street Pastors Kirkcaldy.
First launched in February 2010, their blue jacketed teams of volunteers have become a familiar sight in and around the town centre as pubs and clubs close, and hundreds of people spill out into the night.
Their role is to help keep revellers safe, and provide comfort and re-assurance if they are in a vulnerable situation.
Today (Thursday) marks their tenth anniversary with a fresh appeal for more people to come forward to keep the service going.
The ‘night hawks’ have spent countless hours walking the streets, speaking to people and ensuring there is support wherever it is needed.
helped 5000 people
signposted 4000 individuals to other support agencies
handed out 3000 pairs of flip flops/slippers
Given out over 800 hot drinks and bottles of water.
Picked up over 7000 glasses/bottles
Handed out 3000 lollies/sweets
Helped over 1000 people assisted with transport/put in taxis.
The pastors are drawn from local churches.
They are trained volunteers from local churches who care about their community, going out on the streets at weekend evenings to meet people in their own social environments.
Working alongside the police and local authorities, their strapline is ‘caring, listening and helping’,
And although they do not actively preach a Christian message, there have been many instances where people have asked about the scheme, and that, in turn has sparked conversations about faith and even requests for prayer.
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Before going out, they undertake over 20 hours of intensive training in areas such as first aid, drugs awareness, mental health, roles and responsibilities, listening skills and Good News.
This training is ongoing and refresher courses are attended regularly to ensure personnel are kept up to date.
The scheme was launched in 2003 by the Ascension Trust, and came to Kirkcaldy in 2010 when around 20 volunteers donned the blue jackets for the very first time.
The original pastors included Councillor Judy Hamilton, George Thomson, Kevan Leckie, Stuart Wood, and co-ordinator, Ronnie Green
A commissioning service was attended by local church supporters and dignitaries including councillors, MPs and MSPs, before the first night shifts got underway.
The volunteers are on the streets from 10:00pm until around 4:00am on alternate Saturdays where they offer a re-assuring sight to anyone who may be vulnerable, or simply need to be guided safely into a taxi.
Their help may simply to offer a bottle of water or it may invovle them talking calmly and quietly to someone in distress.
A project to hand out fli-flops was also a big success.
It was all about making sure someone doesn’t suffer an injury after stumbling out of a pub or club.
It even impressed stand-up comedian, the late Sean Hughes, when he came to town for the 2009 Kirkcaldy Comedy Festival.
Hughes wandered on to the stage of the Adam Smith Theatre with a copy of the Fife Free Press under his arm - one was always supplied backstage to let them get a flavour of local issues and pick out anything that might given them a quick gag. Placing it on the stage, he started to read out a story, word for word, about street pastors, handing out flip-flops.
It caught his eye so much so he went off on a tangent about the flip-flop clubbers of Kirkcaldy!
Rob Weir, trustee, said: “Street pastors can play a really helpful role in keeping the Kirkcaldy townsfolk safe as they enjoy nights out.
“People can quickly become vulnerable and we are there with a friendly face and practical support to make sure people are able to function and make their way safely home.”
The Kirkcaldy operation is part of a national organisation pioneered which has grown to operate in over 300 different UK towns and cities including Dunfermline and the Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly and Kelty area.
The team comprises a team of around 8 volunteers led by a management team, but ithas reduced significantly in recent months – leading to an urgent appeal for new volunteers to allow Street Pastors Kirkcaldy to step up to a weekly operation.
Added Rob: “Obviously we need a good team on the ground to do this and we are eager to hear from any ‘night hawks’ who might be interested in this type of voluntary work.”
To volunteer or find out more information. email [email protected] or call 07864 992927.