15 new Edinburgh Street Pastors to help revellers

Patrick Thomson, Laura Ramsay, Lawrie Hudson and Abby Lanyon-Olver. Picture: Scott Taylor
Patrick Thomson, Laura Ramsay, Lawrie Hudson and Abby Lanyon-Olver. Picture: Scott Taylor
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Fifteen Christians will soon be taking on a new mission to help late-night revellers in the Capital.

But instead of their bibles they will be armed with flip flops and hot coffee to help both the homeless and those turning out of clubs.

The chosen ones, members of nine different churches across the city, are the latest recruits to the Edinburgh Street Pastors, who go out every Friday night to support emergency services around the city centre.

The voluntary scheme is led by street pastor coordinator, Justin Lanyon-Olver, 21, who started out as a street pastor when the scheme first came to the Capital in 2009.

He said nights are split into two, with the first part mainly focussed on helping the homeless and the second more concerned with the people who are around at the “chucking out” stage of the night at around 3am.

“We are hands-on involved with people who come out and most of the time they have just drunk far too much alcohol,” he added. “I would say alcohol abuse is a big problem and people putting themselves in a vulnerable position and maybe getting so drunk that they have lost their friends and walk home.”

The recruits, part of a wider 43-strong team based at Greenside Parish Church, have spent ten weeks training for the role.

And despite the late hours, with pastors starting their shift at 11pm and finishing at 4am, it appears more and more Christians are signing up.

New recruit and post-doctoral research associate at Edinburgh University, Patrick Thomson, 29, became a Christian around five years ago and said he got involved in the scheme because he was not a “street corner preacher” but wanted to provide practical support. “We are helping people with their physical and immediate needs and that’s what excited me and kept me in the programme,” he explained.

“Most of the stuff I feel I can help out with is the simple down to earth stuff but I would encourage people to look into it – they say the perfect team is a guy, a girl and a granny because everyone can identify with someone.”

Another recruit, 23-year-old Laura Ramsay, of Sighthill, is partially sighted and will be using a white stick when she is on duty.

However, this has not stopped her wanting “to be there” for people and taking her place in the street pastors team.

“I normally get guided by a street pastor across the road and the public are incredibly accepting of me,” Ms Ramsay explained. “The Christian values are to help each other and we can bring Jesus on to the street without evangelising.”