As most of us prepare to celebrate Christmas surrounded by friends and family, many Christians are preparing to care for the strangers and others in their communities who find themselves in special need at this festive time. Street Pastors throughout Devon are gearing up for a busy time as partygoers hit the streets of our towns and cities.
Torbay Street Pastors have been operating since 2008, covering at first just Torquay but then quickly expanding to include Paignton and Brixham. Now each weekend at least 20 Street Pastors are on duty on Friday and Saturday nights, with three prayer pastors backing them up at the Memorial Hall in Torquay – the base for the operation. Trevor Staveley, Torbay Street Pastor Co-ordinator says, “We can get up to 4,000 people in the area on a Saturday night. We offer First Aid to those that need it and give out water and flip flops. We are a listening and caring service to all. We also feed any homeless people that are around and give out socks, gloves, jumpers and space blankets to those sleeping rough.”
Meanwhile in Seaton the FREEdom Café will be open on 20 December offering a warm welcome and free food with a festive feel for all those who come along.
The FREEdom Café is an innovative project. The monthly community café in St Gregory’s Church Hall was set up by Mary Casey over five years ago. At Christmastime the helpers dress up in festive head gear and Mary gets the local Lions group involved with their Santa float.
Mary says, “We always open as close to Christmas as possible. We have carols playing and other Christmas songs. We give out free sweets, along with our free raffle and free food. Our rummage stall which has a sign on it saying ‘Take what you need, give what you can’ helps those in greater need find the odd Christmas gift or toy.”
These are just some of the ways that people throughout Devon will be demonstrating their Christian love and concern for all at Christmastime as we recall that God came to live as one of us, not in comfort, but as a baby born in a stable.
See here for some reactions to the work of Street Pastors 🙂