A different kind of horse box will be seen this year at Cheltenham Festival – without a hay bag in sight. Instead, a comfy ‘stable’ to rest and flip flops to ease tired feet will be available to festival-goers throughout the notoriously popular four-day event, thanks to Cheltenham Street Pastors.
Street Pastors are a comforting presence on the night’s streets to listen to, care for and help people who have been out in the evening and find themselves alone, distressed or in trouble. Over 14 to 17 March, around 65,000 people are expected to visit the racecourse each day, many of whom will go into the town after a day’s racing to continue the festivities. Cheltenham Street Pastors has been asked to support the police efforts, as they do at most major festivals, to help keep people safe on the streets.
Local Chair Nigel Bennett says, “Fellow members of Cheltenham Borough Council Safe Team and Cheltenham Racecourse have asked for more pastor patrols during the busiest times in Race Week. Therefore, our volunteers will patrol on Thursday and Friday between 7pm and midnight.
“Cheltenham Street Pastors deal with a variety of needs when on patrol; the most requested item to ease the sore feet of women after an evening of wearing high heels is flip flops! These simple items also ensure they do not get their feet cut should they walk in any broken glass. We’re delighted to provide extra patrols during Cheltenham Festival and we are on site at the racecourse with our Safe Space converted horse box called The Stable.
“The Stable will also be on the streets of the town on Thursday and Friday when numbers of people trying to have a good time peak. Street Pastors offer help to anyone who needs it in Cheltenham and this includes our many visitors during the Cheltenham Festival.
“We never interfere with the work of the police who are often overwhelmed dealing with potential crime and disorder. Our role is to help victims of crime or perhaps those who have got separated from friends and feel vulnerable. It is not about preaching, but about listening, caring and helping people in need.”
Street Pastors was started by the Revd Les Isaac in 2003 as a response to growing crime in some London boroughs. The scheme is run in partnership with Police, Council and other statutory agencies. Backed by Cheltenham’s police, civic leaders and churches, it’s claimed the Christian Street Pastors schemes have helped to reduce night crime by up to 84 per cent in some parts of the UK.
If you are thinking of becoming a Street Pastor, visit: Street Pastors