Phil Norton

“Caring, Listening and Helping”

On Thursday 13 October 2016, Phil Norton (right) of Street Pastors visited the Thurrock Leaders’ Prayer group at North Stifford Rectory.

Phil is a former police detective, familiar with Thurrock. He currently attends Revival Church in Billericay (part of the Christian Growth Centre network) and acts as the representative for Street Pastors across Essex.

The scheme is active in over 10 towns and cities in the county, including a team in Basildon which Steve & Sandra Wyles of Community Church are members, and Harlow, which Rev Jokey Poyntz of St Margaret’s, Stanford-le-Hope, is a member.

Phil explained that Street Pastors (which is run by Ascension Trust) is a partnership between the local police, local council and always at least four local churches.

Street Pastors is not just about busy city centres with a thriving nightlife – there are other strands to the vision, like School Pastors.

To be a Street Pastor, you have to be over 18; have been in church for at least 1 year; and willing to submit to the training necessary to be part of a team. All the usual checks are made.

Phil went on to say that the project is about looking to help the vulnerable – it’s not just about drunkenness, drug taking, etc., but also about the bereaved and those with mental health issues. Many people who become Street Pastors are older, maybe retired, and because of that, well-suited to the task, because the grandparent image is seen by many as being nonjudgmental.

Could a ‘Thurrock Street Pastors’ team fill the hole that the demise of Bar’N’Bus has left?

Many Bar’N’Bus team members were bereft when that initiative folded earlier this year through aging vehicles, falling volunteer numbers and inadequate funds.

Phil wondered if Street Pastors could start in Grays and then at a later date move over to Tilbury or Corringham, or wherever it is needed. He emphasised though that there is no sense of imposition and no need for hurry in the process of exploring the options. The process of setting up a local Street Pastors is as follows:

  • VAscension Trust logoisit and talk with Ascension Trust
  • A representative form Ascension Trust will visit the area and talk with church leaders
  • Communication with church leaders within your area
  • Meeting the police and local government
  • Appointment of a coordinator
  • A civic recpetion to launch the Street Pastors’ charity
  • Delivering the training
  • Out on the streets

Phil has already spoken with Grays Police but not Thurrock Council.

Depending on the reaction to this post and discussions with local fellowship leaders, we will look to invite Phil back to the borough for a formal presentation at a gathering of as many interested parties as possible.

Street Pastors logoSome interesting and relevant links:

What is God saying to Thurrock?
What do YOU think?
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Below are selected pages from the Street Pastors’ publicity – apologies that some of the resolution isn’t very good, but the files were too big to download clearly. But you can download PDFs of these using the link to the left of the screen. Otherwise, read the info on the Street Pastors’ website.

Street Pastors 1-1
Street Pastors 2-1