Wantage and Grove Street Pastors
If you are out in Grove at the right times and places you may meet Street Pastors, there to speak to anyone they meet and to love everyone they talk to. They have flip-flops to make it safer for some people to walk, lollipops to cheer up situations that might be difficult, and STREET PASTOR in big letters on their uniform so that you recognise them.
The Street Pastors organisation in the UK has local initiatives in well over a hundred places. Most of them are large towns and cities, and Wantage and Grove Street Pastors was one of the first to operate in broadly rural surroundings. Initially the Street Pastors were only out and about in Wantage, knowing that many from Grove are there on a Friday night; a year later patrols in Grove are well established and there are plans to gradually extend them to more times and places.
The purpose of the initiative is to meet people out on the streets and public places of the village that may be vulnerable through personal circumstances, drink, and group pressure from others of their own age or in any other way. Listening, Caring, Helping is the motto and Street Pastors are trained to go to where people are at night and talk with anyone they meet about whatever they want.
Grove Free Evangelical Church, Grove Methodist Church, St John the Baptist C of E, Vale Elim Church and the six Christian churches in Wantage are all committed to the initiative, and our Street Pastors are selected volunteers drawn from those churches. They start with a year's training, which includes time out on patrol. Street Pastors patrol in teams of four, in simple dark blue uniforms, at times to suit local need; so in Grove at present a team is out on alternate Fridays starting some time after 10pm.
The work is supported financially by grants from many bodies including Vale of White Horse DC, Wantage Town Council and Grove Parish Council.