“Street Pastors are there for those who need a helping hand” – Ruth

Ruth Samways by Adam Chard

I was born in Cardiff and other than a seven-year trip to London, I have lived here all my life.

I’m a city girl and have spent many a night out in the City Centre over the years and like
a lot of people I can proudly say I love the ‘Diff!

Being the Welsh capital, Cardiff is a significant tourism centre and in 2010 had 18.3
million visitors it also has the most licensing capacity than any other city in Europe and
has turned into one of the top city destinations for a weekend away. Therefore when
the idea of Street Pastors came along it was no surprise that over time the scheme
would be a welcomed addition to the city centre’s night time economy team.

Street Pastors?
What is Street Pastors? The idea of Street Pastors was introduced in the UK by the
Rev Les Isaacs after he had visited Jamaica, where the scheme originated. He saw
the difference that could be made by churches and night clubs working together to help
reduce knife and gun crime, he was so impacted by the scheme that when he travelled
back to the UK the idea became a reality and in 2003 the Ascension Trust initiated their
first London scheme. Today there are more than 200 schemes throughout the UK and
worldwide!

Where do I fit in? Well the Cardiff scheme was piloted back in 2008 when I was working voluntary for a charitable Christian organisation called Big Ideas/Ignite; I was part of a team who were involved in setting up a project called IgniteHope. The project saw hundreds of young people come together from local churches throughout Cardiff, the Vale and the Valleys to undertake thousands of hours of community acts of kindness which involved fun days, litter picks, painting, clearing people’s gardens and lots more.

One of the project ideas over that weekend was to send a group of adults into the city centre to assist people in vulnerable positions whether it was because of losing their friends, money or mobile phones, not knowing where there were or just falling asleep after a good night out. The team came across people in all those situations and helped those people that needed it, and because of this the team contributed to making a reduction in violent and alcohol related crime. As a result plans were made to initiate a scheme in Cardiff and so in September 2008 I was asked to take on the role as the Co-ordinator for Cardiff Street Pastors scheme.

In three months a team of 18 applicants from local Churches in Cardiff had applied to volunteer and be trained for the scheme and by November 28th a team of five Street Pastors (myself included), hit the streets of Cardiff City Centre for the very first time!

The response we received from members of the public was, and still is, amazing and even though Street Pastors is a Christian initiative it has been welcomed by people of other faiths and those who have no faith. Street Pastors aren’t there to preach, they are volunteers who are bringing the church in action on the streets, they are passionate about their community and are there for those who need a helping hand.

Street Pastors want to ensure that people have an enjoyable but safe night out. The teams of volunteers assist with situations that enable the emergency services to deal with situations that are emergencies.

Nearly three years later there are now a team of 45 volunteers who on a Friday and Saturday night from the hours of 10pm – 4.00am patrol Cardiff city centre. The teams come across many situations and no one shift is the same. We expect the unexpectable! Many people have been helped as a result of the scheme, eg; the guy who had crawled into a bin for warmth in the Winter and would have been put in a rubbish truck with hideous consequences had he not been helped out, or the person who had collapsed and would have died from hypothermia if he had spent any longer in the cold and numerous other people who have been reunited with their friends, or met by family members to go home safely are just a few of the many situations that we assist with. There are far too many to tell but even if it was only one person that was helped and got home safely as a result then it’s all worthwhile!

Together with the night time economy workers Street Pastors are making a difference and great partnerships have been formed. Local licensees even support the scheme by providing water for the Street Pastors to give out. It’s a team effort and it shows what differences can be made when people and organisations partner together.

After three  years of working on the scheme my time is coming to an end but Cardiff Street Pastors will continue and I will support the great work that happens as a result. I am proud to say that I was there from the start and what a great opportunity I had to work with so many people and organisations who are so passionate about Cardiff they want
to make a difference! Keep up the great work and thank you for all your support.

If you are interested in Cardiff Street Pastors or would like to support the scheme in
anyway please email cardiff@streetpastors.org.uk

Ruth graduated from UWIC in 2007 with a BA (Hons) degree in Community Education which has provided many opportunities in working as a Youth Worker and having a role within the community. In 2008 she was part of the core team for a project called “IgniteHope” where approximately 700 young people worked together over the Bank Holiday weekend to offer acts of kindness to people in their local communities. It was an amazing weekend from which Cardiff Street Pastors was piloted. For the last three years Ruth has been working as the Co-ordinator for Cardiff Street Pastors which has been one of her busiest and most challenging roles yet! Ruth currently lives in Rumney.

Ruth was photographed at the Welsh Tabernacle in the Hayes by Adam Chard

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