SCHOOL PASTORS IN THE CITY
‘School Pastors’ was born out of the Street Pastors movement, and introduced to the city by Portsmouth’s ‘One Body’ in 2016, to provide Christian ‘friendship, safety, and care’ to local secondary schools.
Since May 2018 I have been employed to coordinate School Pastors in Portsmouth. By God’s grace we have seen a gradual increase in volunteer numbers in this time, from 6 to over 20, operating across two secondary schools in the centre and east of the city. One exciting development is an increased diversity in our volunteer team including in career stage from university students, to young professionals, working parents, and retirees, as well as cultural background, and church denomination. This is a significant step forward for the church in schools in our city, and for the children in being able to connect with the body of Christ in all its expressions. Lockdown has meant a small loss in volunteer numbers, but a greater determination amongst the team and some new opportunities to develop our support, and reach out to more people, in more ways.
RETURNING TO SCHOOL
Our visits were paused in March 2020. But over the past 6 weeks we have had meetings with Principals, visited for observations, and spent 3 weeks with a reduced team to recommence visits, while finalising our COVID risk assessments.
We are now planning to reintroduce more of the team and at both schools after the half term break. With schools due to continue no matter the wider restrictions, we believe the demand for this kind of Christian presence in schools will grow.
Now, we would like to introduce more people to the team.
BECOMING A SCHOOL PASTOR
To become a School Pastor, you are required to complete a training programme which introduces you to the Roles & Responsibilities of being a school pastor and safeguarding matters, provides skills for active listening, and shares insight into the complexities surrounding Youth Cultures, Mental Health, and Drugs & Alcohol.
The Ascension Trust, who run School Pastors, have taken the opportunity to take the majority of this training online at this time, and also provide it 5 times per year. This means potential volunteers can now train sooner and more conveniently.
There are costs attached to training. As a not for profit organisation, we want to make becoming a school pastor as accessible and affordable to as many Christians as possible, while also not operating at a loss. We do not want costs to be an obstacle, and can discuss ways to meet these costs more on application.
Before beginning school visits, each volunteer will have completed an online application form, provided 2 references, received an Enhanced DBS certificate if not already receiving one in the past 3 years, and completed at least the R&R and Safeguarding training modules. Ideally, we hope to introduce new volunteers in the new year,.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Andy Bullock – Coordinator, Portsmouth School Pastors