Bexhill Response Pastors made their first deployment at memorials for those killed in the Shoreham air crash.
Bexhill Response Pastors were invited by Sussex Police to come alongside those attending the three memorial services being held at Shoreham on 19 August, following the tragic event the previous Saturday.
The group of seasoned street pastors, who have undergone additional specialist training to become response pastors, were commissioned by Rev Les Issac OBE at Beulah Baptist Church in May 2015. They are the first group in the country to be commissioned, but there are now over 70 trained response pastors that may be called upon in the event of a crisis or disaster.
The coordinator of Bexhill Response Pastors, Karen Coughlan, said:
“Some people just wanted to talk and share what had happened to them and their loved ones. Some wanted to cry and some just wanted to have someone to stand next too them in a supportive way. For some it was just having the presence of another person with time available for them. The value of just sharing time with someone who is experiencing heart rending pain, cannot be underestimated. One of the biggest resources that response pastors have to offer is their time and compassion for people, and this we give freely.”
Karen added, “There was a great sense of Lancing and Shoreham’s communities coming together for one another. The Police and emergency services did an extremely hard job in such traumatic circumstances so very well.”
Inspector James Scott of Sussex Police said:
“The tragic events in Shoreham have effected a great number of people. Being able to have the response pastors deploy at very short notice to offer support and comfort is a great asset and I hope that the people who attended the memorials on Saturday found some comfort from their support.”
When a disaster or crisis occurs it often affects all parts of the community and there is usually a need for emotional as well as physical support. Response pastors will be a crucial point of contact and additional support to the established emergency services. Their primary task will be to offer safety and compassion to all in the event of a crisis or emergency, and this includes the service providers as well.