After months of preparation and meetings between Chelmsford City Council, school representatives, members of churches from the local community and the police, a new initiative is being launched at William de Ferrers School, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex.
The School Pastor team is made up of volunteers from local churches who have committed themselves to the service of young people in their community, offering a reassuring and friendly presence to students who may not feel able to speak openly to teachers or parents. Their main priority is to build relationships with all users of the school and to 'Help, Listen and Care' for all in a non-judgmental way.
Research released by charity Barnardo's in February found that two-thirds of UK children aged 12-16 experience stress at school and 42 per cent have worries about the future.
Councillor Susan Sullivan, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said, "While growing up, young people deal with all kinds of pressures at school, from friendship groups, relationships and exams, and it is important to have people around them who they can talk to. School Pastors provide a listening ear for young people when they need it, assisting their wellbeing as they navigate the rocky road to adulthood."
Eight members of the community have completed their training. City Councillor Linda Denston, Paul Taylor, Jo Godward, Paul Bonham, Carol Laker, Rob Purnell, Sarah Petherick and Jordine Nunn will be starting in the new school year and others will be joining them later, once they have finished their training.
The School Pastors scheme has grown out of the long-standing Street Pastors, who recently celebrated their tenth anniversary in Chelmsford and who work very closely with the police and Chelmsford City Council to keep people in the city centre safe at night. Street, School, Rail and Response Pastors are all the initiatives of Ascension Trust, which was established in 1993.
The Pastors will be volunteering in the school from September onwards, but the initiative launched to the local community at popular festival SWFest on Sunday 26 August, in the grounds of William de Ferrers School. Members of the team were onsite at the Street Pastors stand to speak to parents, students and residents who wished to meet them and find out more.
Councillor Linda Denston, Ward Member for South Woodham Ferrers (Elmwood and Woodville) said, "We are so excited that School Pastors will be starting at William de Ferrers School in September. This initiative is the first in Essex, with two further schools in Billericay and Brentwood expected to follow shortly. I am sure schools from other areas of Essex and surrounding counties will be watching closely. This is a marvellous opportunity for members of local churches to give their time, experience and a friendly ear to help young people in their local schools and build a lasting bond between their communities and schools."
Paul Larner, Deputy Head at William de Ferrers School, said, "We are incredibly excited about the potential that this initiative has."
Friday 31 August 2018