Aim­ing to make streets a safer place

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

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

Pic­ture: Gary Browne PD1711971

Po­lice foren­sic and fire in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cers at Ash­ford Self Hire, scene of the ar­son at­tack

Ben Neil­son died af­ter the town cen­tre at­tack

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