Churches in Littlehampton are practising what they preach with the launch of chaplains to help combat antisocial behaviour and issues in the town centre.
Every Friday, two or three trained volunteers from one of the town’s churches will be on hand from 10am to 4pm to help the homeless, speak to the lonely and help police with antisocial behaviour.
Reverend Martin Seymour, pastor of Littlehampton Baptist Church and chairman of Littlehampton Churches Together, set the wheels in motion after a town centre stabbing rocked the community on March 28.
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Kurtis Donat, 16, was banned from returning to West Sussex after puncturing the lungs of two teenagers and injuring a third in Terminus Road.
Rev Seymour, a former Met Police chaplain said: “After the stabbing, I thought it would be good to have a presence out on our streets.
“This is one more thing the church can do to engage the community. The police have said themselves they are short on resources.”
Sussex Police has donated £500 for the chaplains’ uniforms from the Police Property Act Fund, which is made up of the sale of goods confiscated by the courts.
Caroline Wilson has been a police community support officer in the Arun district for 12 years and is the force’s worship liaison officer. She has worked with Littlehampton Churches Together on the initiative.
She said: “We have had to be smarter with our resources, and partnership working has strengthened amazingly in those 12 years.
“With his work with the Met, Martin has a wealth of knowledge we can tap into. It’s a two-way street and fantastic route for both of us.”
Inspector Danny West said: “I absolutely welcome the support from the public and it is vital to engage with all the partners we can to help deal with issues like anti-social behaviour.”
There are currently 15 chaplains, who have been trained by Guildford Town Centre Chaplaincy which has 12 years’ experience in the field.
Littlehampton town councillor Marian Ayres is one of them. The member of the All Saints Church congregation in Wick said her aim was to make the lonely ‘go home with a smile on their face’.
She said: “In church life, we have an awful lot of training.
“It is nice to get off the pews and onto the streets to put it into action.”