Story: Howard Golding
Photo: Cameron Raphael-Storm
A young resident shot dead. The funeral car slowly approaching up Burngreave Road, followed by family, friends and songs of mourning. In October 2007, Pat Regan from Women Against Violence, speaking from the experience of losing a son, told a meeting at the Adventist Church, “The problem is the gun”.
Gun crimes and gun culture affect us all. Here in Burngreave, it has had a devastating effect on our community – and allows the media to stigmatise the area and the residents. Young men are killing young men. Why? Is not a young man’s life worth something?
Malcolm X says you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Street Pastors aim to be part of the solution. Street Pastors are like you and me, ordinary people! Many Street Pastors work, live or attend churches in the area.
What is a Street Pastor? How do we know they are genuine? What can they do to help?
Part of the solution is gaining the confidence of young people by befriending, listening, supporting and providing positive choices and possibilities to young people.
A Street Pastor is someone from the Christian community who is willing to engage people where they are, in terms of their perspective of life and where they hang out – be it on the streets, in the pubs and clubs or at parties.
The Street Pastor is there to get to know people in the community and to build relationships in order to find out their needs and what can be done to help. Street Pastors must gain the credibility of the community, so that the community knows that the Church has come to them.
Street Pastor Initiative is new to Sheffield. It has been tried in other inner cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and has helped reduce gun crime.
The role is not about preaching heaven and hell, but one of caring, listening and helping.
Credibility comes from being upfront, open and honest with the community and we have already been out on Ellesmere Green to hand out information.
Confidentiality is paramount; we are not police informers. We will give advice and support to any young person when requested. We look forward to serving the area of Burngreave.
If you would like more information about Street Pastors, please feel free to contact Pastor Andrew on 07931 732 490 or attend the next meeting on Tuesday 20th October 7.30pm at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Andover Street.