Street pastors who go out at night to help, listen to and care for people could be coming to Ballymoney.
The church-based scheme has already been running in Coleraine since October last year, starting off with 45 volunteers and now the organisers say there is an invitation to start the project in housing estates in Ballymoney.
Street pastors go out in teams of three or four looking for people who may be in need of help or a friendly ear. The emphasis is on listening, caring and helping.
On a typical night, street pastors might pick up bottles and glasses which might cause injury or be used as weapons, give out flip-flops to girls who can no longer walk in their high heels, help people get taxis or other transport home, sometimes staying with them until someone collects them.
They may also help prevent anti-social incidents, help with simple first aid, point people to other services.
Barbara Brown of Coleraine Street Pastors told the Times: “We don’t preach or give out tracts but it might surprise you how many people want to open up and share their heart with you.
“If someone wants to talk about football, that’s what we will talk about. But if they want to talk about the meaning of life, then we’re happy to do that.
“We are not judgemental and we don’t preach. We are about giving practical help but also about the love that comes from the Father’s heart, without strings attached.”
Barbara continued: “There is already a group which patrols around the pubs and clubs in Ballymoney so we aren’t planning to work in the town centre but the Housing Executive is encouraging us to start to cover the estates in the town.
“Young people from Ballymoney often socialise in Portrush and Portstewart so Ballymoney volunteers will have the choice of covering the local estates or volunteering at the pubs and nightclubs in Portrush and Portstewart.”
Street Pastors will be holding an interest meeting in Ballymoney Town Hall on Monday, June 22nd at 7.30pm for anyone who would like to find out more about the scheme and what they do.
Anyone over 18 who is part of a church is welcome to come and find out more. Coleraine volunteers range in age from 19 - mid 70s and come from all backgrounds and occupations.
“The Street Pastors come from a wide range of local churches; it’s wonderful to see people working together in such harmony,” added Barbara.
She was also happy to acknowledge the help of the NI Housing Executive and the PCSP with the funding of the Street Pastors scheme. TBF Thompson Ministries have also helped financially.
Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend the interest meeting in Ballymoney or the commissioning service for newly trained pastors in Coleraine Town Hall on Saturday, June 6th at 7,30pm.
This will be an opportrnity to meet and chat to street pastors and to hear from the London couple - Eustace and Sharon Constance from Brixton - who were part of the first scheme which started 13 years ago.
For further information, contact Barbara Brown on 028 7084 8012 or 079 62624598.
* If you would like to find out more about Street Pastors and what they do, check out facebook.com/colerainestreetpastors or the website coleraine.streetpastors.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org