Dereham Town Pastors was launched in 2016 as a voluntary, independent, inter-denominational church initiative to bring a safe and welcoming presence on the streets of Dereham. The aim is primarily to serve people, regardless of faith or background, by listening, showing concern and where possible, offering practical help on a non-judgemental and unconditional basis. We work closely with Dereham Town Council, local police and the emergency services in helping Dereham become a safer place.
The Town Pastors are very visible in their bright pink waistcoats and work in pairs on Friday afternoons twice a month and monthly on a Friday night between 10pm and 2am. Town Pastors undertake extensive training including safeguarding, drugs and alcohol awareness and first aid and each patrol is supported by a prayer team at a base in the town and others praying at home.
Dereham Town Pastors - How Does it Work?
Patrols are supported by a prayer team at a base in the town and others praying at home. They carry bottles of water, chocolate bars, lollipops, tissues, space blankets and other useful items to hand out should the need arise.
Over time, those on patrol have built relationships by:
• Chatting to vulnerable adults and listening to their concerns
• Coming alongside people in the town and youngsters on the Rec
• Defusing potentially volatile situations in town
• Helping distressed, intoxicated young (and not so young) people get home safely
• Signposting those in need to other organisations who can help them
• Generally helping the public in practical ways in order that our town may be a safe pleasant place to live and work.
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Dereham Town Pastors - Who pays?
There is no getting away from the fact that it does cost money to run an organisation of this kind. Uniforms, training, insurance, website, mobile phones, to say nothing of bottled water, lollipops and choc bars!
However, there is also no getting away from the fact that if Dereham Town Pastors is on the Lord’s to-do list, then he will provide. We have been humbled as provision has come in - again and again.
We have some faithful people who give on a monthly basis or donate proceeds from a church event. We are extremely grateful and extend heartfelt thanks. BUT costs are on the rise.
So, if the Lord is ‘nudging’ you to contribute, financially, or in any other way, please contact Tricia Waller on 07941 492020 or email her at email@example.com
Dereham Town Pastors - Does it Work?
In 2017, due to loss of team members we had to stop late evening patrols. However, God had other ideas. A new team was formed, and in April 2018 patrols started again, once a month on Friday nights from 10pm-2am.
One of the regular Friday night Town Pastors had this to say:
“One thing that stands out is how misunderstood the young people, the homeless and the addicts are.
All these groups feel that they are ‘profiled, labelled and stigmatized’. Young people congregate and socialise and become boisterous but are not, in most cases, being anti-social.
The homeless would love a home and the addicts want to be “clean”.
They feel that social services has let them down for whatever reason and I’ve found that rejection is a big emotional/social problem.
Just getting to know these people, building relationships and showing that someone cares and is a listening ear and most of all, will not pre-judge them, seems to calm any rejection fuelled rebelliousness, which, unfairly and unfortunately, is usually reserved for any form of uniform or authority figure.
On our “shift” we provide a presence outside the Metro (night club), have built a rapport with the management and staff and with the pub next door. We find when people become drunk and emotional they seem to want to pour out all their troubles to us (yes – even big butch squaddies!).
To be able to help people in need in some way is very rewarding and I wish we could do it more often.
I would like to thank any past town pastors on whom our good reputation is founded, to enable us to be accepted by people who normally would be un-approachable.”
DTP Newsletter thought
Jesus is everywhere, anytime, even late at night on the streets of Dereham, and here, the simplest act can be of service to him.
In Matthew’s gospel we read the words of Jesus: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:40)
The point of this parable is not the who, but the what. The importance of serving where service is needed, and maybe the most important word in this passage is ‘least’.
Dereham Town Pastors - Going out on patrol - what is it like?
DTPs are affiliated to Town Pastors in Suffolk from whom it receives advice and support. One of the first things we learnt from our friends in Suffolk was that whoever goes out on patrol must be equipped. Uniforms had to be fit for purpose, warm coats and hi-vis waistcoats were a must have. We agonised over what colour to use. Yellow is used by the police. Orange is used by highways, council etc. But pink? We were not at all sure,but went for pink.
Since then we have learnt that Virgin trains deploy staff wearing pink hi-vis vests, trained in conflict resolution, to deal with football fans using their services. The company chose pink as it is known to have a calming effect on crowds.
Pastors have to undertake training, personal safety, safeguarding, drugs/alcohol awareness, first aid and prayer. They constantly keep in touch by mobile phone with those praying at the base, who in turn relay the information to the person praying at home. Finally they have a rucksack carrying the all-important bottled water, tissues, lollipops and choc bars.
So off we go! Prepared for anything!
We are there for those on the streets of Dereham, and one could be forgiven for immediately thinking of children. However, DTP are there for everyone, including children, but we are there to serve people of all ages.
Some find Christmas a difficult period to get through. Dereham on New Year’s Eve was a busy time as DTP decided to do an extra shift! They saw in the New Year by helping many to do the same safely.
DEREHAM TOWN PASTORS NEED MORE VOLUNTEERS
Could it be you?
Town Pastor: Working in pairs, wearing bright pink jackets and headgear, out in Dereham town on a Friday afternoon or evening. A positive influence on the streets, providing help and support to vulnerable people. Could it be you?
Base Prayer: Meet at Town Pastor base in Dereham to pray whilst the patrol is out, keep in close touch and provide them with refreshments. The prayer team are a vital part of the Town Pastors patrol. Could it be you?
Home Prayer: Part of the team who pray at home. The home prayer has continual updates from the base whilst the patrol is out and maybe someone who is not able to walk the streets but still wants to be involved. Could it be you?
If so, please contact Tricia Waller on 07941 492020 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org