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New sources of cash are needed to secure the future of the Isle of Wight’s church-led street and school pastors, after they failed to win a 2019 Police and Crime Commissioner’s grant.

The volunteers are out on the Island’s streets regularly, providing care, support and practical help to people on the streets at night, and at the end of the school day.

More than forty Islanders volunteer through the two organisations and there are three key part-time staff who organise the patrols.

They have managed to secure replacement funding from other organisations, including through the churches that they represent, but not enough to fully cover the amount that has been lost.

Coordinator Andrew Gardner told Isle of Wight Radio,

“We do in fact get quite a lot of regular donations. Pastors will be able to continue. Our issue is whether it can continue in the same form.

“About 25 per cent of funding in recent years has been provided by the OPCC. You tend to rely on it. This year we bid again and were unsuccessful.

“We have to look at what the implications are. We have to look at what we can do to replace that finding or reduce our costs.

“If we were to reduce our cost, that would mean reducing the time spent by our coordinators. Then we would look at how me might have to reduce what we do…the number of days we work in schools, the number of patrols we put out….because we haven’t got enough time to organise them.”

He says he is looking into other funding streams, as well as talking to venues on the Island and other organisations, but says the situation is “encouraging”.  

A spokesperson for the Police and Crime Commissioner told Isle of Wight Radio another round of grant funding will open soon, adding that future applications from the Street Pastors would be welcome:

“As in any bidding process, there will unfortunately be some organisations that are disappointed with the outcome. While all the organisations seek to make a valuable contribution to their communities unfortunately the need expressed within the applications received, greatly outweighed the funding available to meet that need.

“To ensure that the funding awarded reflects local need and avoids creating duplication, advice was taken from community partners. The funding was then allocated in a fair and balanced way across themes of activity, sectors and location to achieve maximum impact in terms of making our communities safer.

“Since being in office the Commissioner has increased the opportunities for community organisations to bid for funding for projects that help reduce offending, protect the vulnerable and support victims. There are now two grant rounds each year with the next due to open shortly, and we would welcome future applications from the Isle of Wight Street Pastors.”