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The man who started the internationally successful Street Pastors movement is to visit the Inverness Street Pastors project as part of his first ever Scottish tour.

The Rev. Les Isaac’s seven-day whistlestop tour of all 17 Scottish projects will mark the fifth anniversary of the street-based aid organisation in Scotland and its tenth anniversary worldwide.

There are now more than 400 fully trained Street Pastors operating in Scotland with new groups emerging regularly in town and city centre hotspots. Perhaps best known for the number of flip flops they distribute to barefoot revellers, Street Pastors have become a welcome addition to the country’s night time profile administering assistance and understanding wherever and whenever required.

The Inverness project, based in the Inverness BID office on Academy Street, was launched in 2008 and now has 54 Street Pastors volunteering across three initiatives in the city:

• City Centre Weekend - between 9:30pm and 3:30am in the city center on Friday/Saturday nights;

• Community - Teams operating in the communities of Merkinch and Hilton from 7:30  to 10:00 on Friday/Saturday evenings;

• City Centre Daytime – the first initiative of its kind within Street Pastors in the UK, currently operating 12:30 to14:30 Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons in the city centre.

Local Co-ordinator Mark Hadfield said "We hope that Rev Isaac and his wife, Louise, will get to sample our area's natural beauty and infamous hospitality as part of their brief visit to Inverness on this tour. The history and vision of Street Pastors has always been about working with others to engage with issues affecting society and local communities. So we are very excited to welcome the founder of Street Pastors into a round table discussion with friends and partners concerned for the welfare of our city, and the developing daytime partnership in particular"

Rev Issac will visit Inverness on Monday 27 May. During his time there he will attend a lunchtime event in The Townhouse, Inverness, where he will meet local Street Pastors, and will participate in a round table discussion of issues facing the city and the city partnership approach that addresses these issues.

Looking forward to his first tour of Scotland, Rev Isaac said he hoped his visits would encourage and re-enthuse the growing body of Street Pastors north of the border.

“The growth of Street Pastors in Scotland has been phenomenal,” he said, “and we are currently in talks to look at setting up projects in at least a further five towns.

“The work these projects do has been well-received and the Street Pastors have become a welcome sight in Scottish town and city centres. My wife Louise and I are looking forward to meeting as many people involved with the Scottish projects as possible and seeing the work they carry out right across the country.”

Sandy Scrimgeour, Chairman of the Street Pastors’ umbrella body - the Ascension Trust (Scotland) - said it was a “real coup” to host Rev Isaac on his first ever nationwide tour.

“Rev Isaac has never made a tour like this before and we’re delighted that he’s agreed to undertake this demanding schedule to mark the fifth anniversary of Street Pastors in Scotland,” he said.

“We want him to witness the amazing work his vision has fostered in Scotland,” added Mr Scrimgeour. “Street Pastors is not only sustainable but also has the potential to expand into Scotland’s daytime economy with projects being looked at involving schools and shopping centres. I believe we could see the number of projects double in Scotland in the next few years.”

Based on a model launched by Rev Isaac in Lambeth and Hackney, south London, in 2003, Street Pastor projects across Scotland have already earned widespread acclaim and Mr Scrimgeour is in no doubt that they are saving lives.

“It’s not just about handing out flip flops,” he said. “Street Pastors offer a raft of practical help as well as a non-judgmental ear and often the calm comfort of a member of our team can defuse high-tension aggressive situations - thereby preventing injury or arrest - or even act in a suicide intervention role averting tragedy.

“Nationally, it has been proven that street crime drops in areas where Street Pastors operate and they are seen as a much more approachable presence by all ages.

“It’s difficult to see someone in a baseball cap eating a bag of chips as an authoritarian figure - and we get results,” explained Mr Scrimgeour.

Rev. Isaac arrives in Scotland on Sunday, May 26, and will visit projects in Kirkwall, Tain, Inverness, Elgin, Aberdeen, Arbroath, Inverclyde, Paisley, Glasgow, Falkirk, Bathgate, Stirling, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Levenmouth, Edinburgh and Perth.

During his tour he will take time to commission new Street Pastors, give keynote addresses, attend prayer meetings and street projects before leaving on June 1.


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