End of an era for Hucknall street pastors after 10 years
The end of an era has come in Hucknall with the news that the town’s street pastors scheme is finishing.
For almost 10 years, the group has been a familiar sight on Hucknall’s streets at night offering help and support to those who need it.
But now, the group is finishing as it no longer makes financial sense for it to continue.
Martin Hodge, one of the group’s founders, said: “Over the last 10 years, we have operated under a licence from the Ascension Trust, who licence all street pastor teams across the country.
"As part of that, we pay them a fee and in return, we get access to the training, uniform and insurances to ensure we are fully covered should we encounter any problems on the streets.
"For the majority of that time, the licence fee was set at a proportion of the donations we received each year and if you didn’t get any, there was still a minimum to pay to cover insurance.
"Obviously, small teams like Hucknall paid a lot less than much bigger teams like, for example, Birmingham, and that to us seemed fair.
"However, the Ascension Trust then changed their funding model and the minimum amount for the licence fee changed quite dramatically, not an excessive amount, but still more than we would have spent in a year.
"Therefore, we didn’t think it was good use of the money that the public was giving to us to give it all away to the Ascension Trust when we could have been using it to buy resources we needed to help people on the streets when we were out.
"We negotiated with the Ascension Trust but we were unable to reach an agreement and the Covid happened, and the pubs were all shut so we didn’t go out and so we took the chance to reflect on where we stood.
"We know people did want to help us find the money, the churches in Hucknall were willing to help us too, but again, we had to ask ourselves if that was right thing to do?
"We thought about going independent and we asked if there was still a need for street pastors in Hucknall.
"The answer to that is, we don’t know, so this is not necessarily the end.
"It is the end for now as we have come to the end of the street pastor era but whether or not we carry on as an independent organisation, we don’t know.
"But as the high street opens up again, we’ll talk with Ashfield District Council – who were really supportive when we first started – and the police and see what their intelligence says and if we feel there is a need for Hucknall street team that goes out in the future then I’m sure we will get volunteers for that again.”