The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, has appointed Reverend Les Isaac OBE as a new Ecumenical Canon to Southwark Cathedral.
The Revd Les Isaac
The Revd Les Isaac was born in Antigua and came to the United Kingdom as a young child, growing up in north London with his parents. He experienced gangs and street violence in his teens, becoming a Rastafarian in his search for hope. Then in his late teens Les became a Christian. This radical life changing experience inspired him to always seek ways to engage with the same hard-to-reach communities that he came from; he is committed to sharing not only the spiritual relevance of the gospel message but also the very practical message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He has been a minister for over 35 years and is currently a member of the Pastoral Team at the Church of God of Prophecy in Battersea, South London. He is Chief Executive Officer of Ascension Trust which he founded over 20 years ago. He was awarded an OBE in 2012 for his work as the Head of Ascension Trust. Les co-founded the Street Pastors Initiative in 2003 as a response to the growing concern for the problems of gun and knife crime, binge drinking, gang culture, loneliness, violence and anti-social behaviour on our high streets. There are now other national and international initiatives: School Pastors, College Pastors, Rail Pastors and Response Pastors. He is married to Louise and they have two children, both of whom are married.
Recently Street Pastors Kingston received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Night Time Economy 2016 at a ceremony hosted by Best Bar None. This is a National Award Scheme supported by the Home Office, aimed at promoting responsible management and operation of alcohol licensed premises.
The Award, which was totally unexpected, was presented at Pryzm night club to Deputy Co-ordinator Sue Shaw with fellow Street Pastors, Luke Randall, Katie Cooper, William Allberry and Sarah Stokes. There was lots of cheering and whooping and a great party atmosphere. The ceremony included awards for best pub, club, bar staff, atmosphere, and front of house people.
The scheme was piloted in Manchester in 2003 and found to improve standards in the Night time economy, reducing alcohol related crime and promoting partnership approaches to resolving problems. It has since been adopted by 75 town and cities across the UK and is being taken up internationally.
Best Bar None has been running in Kingston for ten years, the same period of time as Street Pastors Kingston.
A new scheme which aims to help reduce street crime in the Borders has been launched.
Street Pastors is a faith-based initiative which sees trained volunteers from different denominations patrol streets at night and visit pubs and nightclubs aiming to assist members of the public.
The initiative, which is supported by Police Scotland and Scottish Borders Council (SBC), will initially operate in Galashiels and Hawick.
Since 2003, Street Pastors has grown from humble beginnings in a single London borough to a nationwide organisation covering over 270 towns and cities throughout the United Kingdom.
Borders Street Pastors is the 23rd initiative to be established in Scotland. By using the principles of Caring, Listening and Helping, it aims to bring a calming effect to the streets, with statistics showing significant reductions in street crime when they are on patrol.
Recruited from the Christian community, street pastors undergo 50 hours of training and the intention is to have patrols of three or four street pastors on the streets of Hawick and Galashiels on a Saturday night by the early summer.
Borders Street Pastors is seeking to recruit additional pastors and anyone interested should email email@example.com.
Sandy Scrimgeour, of the Ascension Trust (Scotland) which provides the training for Street Pastors, said:
“The way Street Pastors works is very simple. Trained street pastors demonstrate the Christian ethos in a very practical way by being there to Care, Listen and Help.
“Street Pastors operates with the support of the Police, Council and Churches, what is known as the ‘Urban Trinity’ and I am pleased both Scottish Borders Council and Police Scotland are supportive, along with a number of churches.
“Whilst the intention is to operate in both Galashiels and Hawick, as the initiative progresses it will look to support other communities during the Borders festival period.”
Councillor Donald Moffat, SBC’s Executive Member for Community Safety, added:
“Street Pastors are famed for handing out flip-flops to young women on a night out, but their assistance to the community consists of a lot more. It has been proven in a number of areas across the United Kingdom that Street Pastors operate that they help reduce crime by a significant percentage.
“I am delighted Scottish Borders Council and Police Scotland are supporting Street Pastors and look forward to the scheme hopefully spreading to other communities of the Borders.”
Chief Inspector Andy McLean, Local Area Commander for the Scottish Borders said: “The street pastors provide a valuable service to members of the public who find themselves in a vulnerable state while out enjoying the night-time economy within the Scottish Borders. Their early intervention may mean that an individual who would subsequently require police or medical assistance is able to get home safely, and I welcome their deployment within the region.”
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A new relationship has been formed between Ascension Trust, the governing body of Street Pastors and BMS World Mission. A Memorandum of Understanding was recently signed at Ascension Trust’s headquarters in Morden, Surrey, as an agreement about working together in the training of street pastors for both UK locations and overseas.
“Ascension Trust is excited about this new relationship with BMS. Both Ascension Trust and BMS are mission driven, with individual strengths,” said Eustace Constance, Ascension Trust’s operations manager. “Our joint commitment to see the church equipped and active is a great place for this relationship to start.”
BMS director of mission, Peter Dunn, referred to the partnership as a “strategic relationship”. He continued, “We both share a passion and a vision for mission. My hope and prayer is that we will be able to help equip street pastors for mission in the UK as they meet people of many different cultures on the streets, and that we will be able to contribute to this mission tool being used where appropriate overseas.”
BMS also hopes to assist with making introductions for Street Pastors in countries where it has links. This new collaboration could also enable BMS to encourage the outreach of churches at home in the UK. “The Street Pastors initiative helps churches to see beyond their four walls and give them the tools to be able to actively do something about the issues they’re so concerned about on our streets at night,” added BMS UK field leader, Graham Doel. “This relationship has the potential to see churches in all kinds of contexts released in mission.”
Luminar, the UK’s largest chain of nightclubs, is encouraging its managers to go out on patrol with their local Street Pastors team.
The promise to instruct managers to make contact with the Street Pastors coordinator in their area came from the CEO of Luminar, Peter Marks, during his visit to the Street Pastors national conference in May 2014. In all, 33 of Luminar’s network of 52 clubs are situated in towns and cities where street pastors are active.
In Cambridge, where Luminar owns two clubs, managers Simon Wilson from Kuda and Andrew Barney from Ballare, spent several hours with the Cambridge street pastors team last weekend. They were able to see how street pastors are on hand to help anyone in a vulnerable state around the pubs and clubs, whether they are in need of First Aid, have had too much to drink or have become separated from their friends.
The initiative from Luminar is a significant move to continue to build the partnership between clubs and their door staff and street pastors. Simon Wilson, General Manager of Kuda, said, “We believe in working together with various agencies to ensure Cambridge has a safe night-time economy. The street pastors do a fantastic job; this is a chance for us to strengthen the relationship we have, to get to know them on a personal level and to help out where we can.”
The Street Pastors movement was launched in 2003 by Reverend Les Isaac. Street pastors are Christians with a concern for their community who have been trained to care for, listen to and help people in practical ways and provide a reassuring presence in local communities. Street Pastors is an initiative of the Ascension Trust, which has mobilised local churches to get involved in the night-time economy and the problems that many towns and cities face.