Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Chippenham's 'flip flop army' wins community award
Street pastors in Chippenham have been awarded for two years of caring for people out on the town on a Saturday night.
Night-time revellers may be familiar with the friendly faces of the volunteers, who may have given them water and jelly babies, flip flops to protect their feet from broken glass, or just a listening ear.
The Chippenham and Salisbury teams picked up the award for Creative Partnership Working in Communities at last week’s Wiltshire Voluntary and Community Awards ceremony.
The pastors are often out on patrol in Chippenham on Saturdays from 10pm to 4am to restore calm to the sometimes chaotic centre. Services they perform have included sweeping up broken bottles, collecting discarded cans, returning supermarket trolleys and replanting uprooted flowers.
Mary Fallon, who has been a street pastor for the past year, said: “I absolutely love it. We want our young people to stay in Chippenham and to have a good time, not go off to Bristol and Bath. We are there as a friendly face. People see me as a nan figure and like to come up and talk, we have lovely conversations.
“We should be known as the flip flop army. There are a lot of girls in high heels who eventually get blisters, so we give them flip flops. We give jelly babies if people get aggressive, not just as a sweetener but because drinking lowers your blood sugar level, and we give out water for rehydration.”
The pastors work with door staff, police and the operator of the CCTV from Little George roundabout to St Andrews Church.
Wiltshire councillor Peter Hutton, who holds the portfolio for public protection, said: “The street pastors now play a vital role in our night-time economy and are highly regarded by both local authorities and Wiltshire Police, but most importantly have been warmly welcomed by our communities.
“I would like to thank all of our street pastors for their tremendous commitment to the safety of the people of Wiltshire and look forward in seeing them flourish over the coming years.”
Chippenham IT firm Avagio won the award for Employer Demonstrating Support for Local Communities at last Tuesday’s event, after providing free IT support to Wiltshire Blind Association (WBA) since 2010, worth about £9,000.
Managing director Adam Morris, who has agreed to support WBA for a further three years, said: “The team are especially proud of this award as it is about giving back, something we believe all profit-making businesses should engage in.”