Monday, January 21, 2013

Pastors administer aid to city’s revellers

An voluntary organisation set up to protect weekend revellers is hoping to double its numbers on Cork City’s streets.

Street Pastors set up the Saturday night patrols in Cork six months ago and have been praised for their work by the gardaí.

Currently they have 20 members but, according to co-ordinator Dave Hoey, they hope to double this in the coming weeks.

The organisation was formed in Brixton, London, in 2003 and has 10,000 members in Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Street Pastors wear distinctive blue and black jackets which have the florescent Street Pastor name emblazoned on their fronts and backs.

They often administer to people who may have had too much to drink and often try to defuse potentially violent situations

The team regularly minds sick or injured people until the emergency services arrive.

Mr Hoey said the Street Pastor teams normally start their patrols at about 10.30pm and remain on the street until about 4am the following day.

“We bring around a first aid kit, thermal blankets, bottles of water and flip flops,” he said.

The first aid kits have obvious use and the thermal blankets are for people who may be suffering from hypothermia.

The bottles of water are provided to those who may have been sick and have become dehydrated.

The flip flops are given to young female revellers who may have lost their high heels, or who may have swollen ankles as a result of hours dancing in high-heeled shoes.

“In the areas we have patrolled in the past six months we have disposed of approximately 2,400 glass bottles which if left on the street have potential to be used as weapons.

“We also sweep up broken glass so that people walking in their bare feet don’t get injured.”

The patrollers also keep a close eye out for what they term vulnerable people and will endeavour to contact that person’s friends to let them know where they are.

Recruits normally have references from their various church leaders and they have to be Garda-vetted before they can be trained.

“We’d like to double the amount of volunteers we have. They have to pay for their own uniforms, training and incur their own expenses. If somebody would like to sponsor any of this they could contact the gardaí on our behalf,” said Mr Hoey.

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