This October marks 16 years since the Sutton Street Pastors first began patrolling the streets of Sutton and making a difference in the lives of our community.


Sutton Street Pastors was first founded in 2005 by Mark Tomlinson (who heads up Sutton Community Works, and also runs other local initiatives such as Food Bank, Community Food Shop, School Pastors, a Winter Night Shelter, and a befriending service for the elderly) and their presence on the streets has always been felt by members of the borough. Street Pastors is a nationwide initiative, run by Ascension Trust, and at the core of their work is “the church putting their faith into action”. Sutton are just one of many boroughs with such brilliant teams made up of many participating local churches with volunteers from all walks of life and right through the age ranges, with the oldest street pastor in Sutton aged 82! They patrol the streets on Fridays and Saturdays in the afternoon and the evening, they help the homeless and the vulnerable, provide support to those who are drunk and need assistance, help to signpost, and care for those who struggle with Mental Health difficulties, and they are always on hand to listen to the lonely and those who feel on the edge of society. The team also gets practical by handing out sleeping bags, flip-flops, water, spikeys, and helpful advice to aid people’s safety. One of their key mottos is that they believe that Street Pastors should “be Jesus’ hands, feet and voice on the streets”, following Jesus’ example when he spoke to those society rejected and helped those who people would often ignore. In their ministry, in 2019 alone, they directly assisted 406 people with 185 shifts running and 2154 volunteer hours given to serve the community.


It was an absolute pleasure to attend the 16th year anniversary celebration held at Christchurch Sutton on Friday 1st of October where we, as a community, could recognise the tremendous impact Street Pastors have on keeping the streets of Sutton safe and looking after those who need it. The leader of Sutton Council, Ruth Dombey, as well as the Borough Police Commander, Dave Stringer, were in attendance to show their gratitude and personally be involved in acknowledging how big a difference Street Pastors make in the local area and how by ‘helping, caring, listening’ they were giving people who needed it the most the hope they need and the support they would not have otherwise received. On the night, the Sutton Street Pastor co-ordinator told us, “That although it’s great to be thanked and affirmed, they do this role because they love it and feel called to serve in this way.” We should admire their servant hearts and try to translate their compassion for others into how we treat those around us as you never know what people may be experiencing, but being kind can make all the difference.