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Future bright for street pastors to help out at night in the heart of historic Rochester

Fears about the future of Rochester’s street pastors have been put to rest after trustees came forward and money was donated to keep the organisation running.

The group, which looks after people in the High Street on Saturday nights, was set up after 19-year-old Terry Reynolds died after he fell into the river while making his way home.

They found themselves in need of new trustees after those serving on the board came to the end of their five-year term, and had to step down.

River ward councillor Andrew Mackness and Sgt Adam Duke, among others, have now stepped forward to fill the vacant seats.

Cllr Mackness has contributed £2,000 of his funds, with other councillors also expressing an interest, and a local church has donated £3,000.

Chairman Peter Tottman said: “All of a sudden we’ve
got seven trustees and doubled our bank balance all in a matter of months.

“We just received a grant from Kent People’s Trust of £1,200 and we’ve got five people wanting to come out with us obviously with a view of becoming street pastors.”

Pete Tottman chairman of the Street Pastors, who are based in Rochester
Pete Tottman chairman of the Street Pastors, who are based in Rochester

The organisation is made up of members of church communities and at the moment there are 18 active street pastors and three in training.

Each pastor has to spend 50 hours training before they are able to go out. This covers first aid, counselling, and getting to know the community.

They are required to spend one night a month on patrol in a team of four.

Mr Tottman said their role was mainly listening, caring and helping.

“We have a very good relationship with all the door staff along the High Street,” he said. “Sometimes if it’s a situation, say between a husband and wife, the door staff call us rather than calling the police in the first instance.”

He added: “In six years, we have prevented a least
eight people from taking a dive off Rochester Bridge, and police said the crime rate has fallen by 25%.”

The team also pick up bottles and glasses, hand out flip-flops to those who have taken their shoes off, and put those who may be a little bit worse for wear in taxis to make sure they get home safely.

With growing interest and funds, Mr Tottman said the group was hoping to be able to start patrols on Friday nights, and then Thursdays too.

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