Aiming to make streets a safer place
JUST over a year after the tragic killing of Ben Neilson, a new project will help curb violence on the High Street.
Christians across the borough have got together to start a street pastor scheme which will see the group working with the council and the police. Their plan is to offer practical help and advice outside pubs and clubs.
Essella Road resident Ben, 21, was kicked and punched to death in the High Street last April.
His mother Barbara is planning to help fund some of the training in an effort to get help for youngsters who need it on a Friday and Saturday night.
She said: “I like the practical help that the street pastors will give young adults on the street. If a girl has lost her shoe, they’ll give her a pair of flip-flops, or if they need advice on getting home they’ll help out.
“If there had been someone like that on the street that night Ben was killed it might not have got so out of hand.”
One of those hoping to become a street pastor is mother-of-two Sarah Davies.
She said: “My daughter was friends with Ben. We had been talking about street pastors before he was killed and when it happened I think it really gave us the impetus to do it.”
The Washford Farm resident, 53, added: “I really feel for younger people. They’re having to go through so much more than people of my generation did. I just think if I can make a difference to them then I feel I’ve done my small bit in life.”
Hoping to join Mrs Davies is Tom Pelham, 28, a trainee Baptist minister.
The Kent Avenue resident said: “We really want to think about the needs of people in the town and to get involved.
“I don’t think any of us would be prepared to do this if we didn’t think we could make some kind of impact on the community.”
To find out more or get involved you can email Tom at ashford@s treetpastors.org.uk
What do you think? Write to Kentish Express, 34-36 North Street, Ashford, Kent TN24 8JR or email kentishexpress@t hekmgroup.co.uk
Police forensic and fire investigation officers at Ashford Self Hire, scene of the arson attack
Ben Neilson died after the town centre attack