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Street Pastors carrying lollipops and flip flops arrive in Newbury

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The group was set up by a partnership between nine Newbury churches, with the aims of making the church more relevant in society and doing their bit to clamp down on anti-social behaviour in the town.
So far, 23 volunteers have signed up for the group, and they will head out into Newbury in groups of four in their distinctive blue uniforms on Saturday nights, engaging with people in the town centre as the clubs and pubs spill empty, and hoping to fight anti-social and drunken behaviour by helping people into cabs or diffusing potentially explosive situations before they escalate. They communicate with the police via the pub watch radio scheme.
The organiser, Debi Arden-Hunt, said: “The town was fairly quiet for our first night. We met about 60 groups of people on Saturday and handed out 120 lollipops.
“Everyone we met was very positive about what we are doing and we did not encounter any negativity at all.”
She said that there was no set goal against which she would measure the success of the organisation, but that she expected to have a clearer picture of what they would be able to achieve and where they would need to focus by the May Bank Holiday weekend, at which point all the teams would have rotated and they would have had a better chance to assess the needs of the town.
Those present at the launch, including Newbury MP Richard Benyon and the Mayor of Newbury, Jeff Beck, were full of praise for the ideals of the organisation.
Greenham Common Trust has contributed £5,000 to the charity to support the battle against anti-social behaviour.
Apart from those out on the street, a second group, called prayer pastors, stay behind in the Baptist church in Cheap Street offering prayers for those working, and for those they meet who request it.
For more information, or to join the group, contact Deborah Arden-Hunt on 07593 996 309.

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