TWELVE new street pastors were welcomed into the fold during a special commissioning service at Freshbrook Evangelical Church.

Swindon Street Pastors, run by the Ascension Trust, is an initiative of the local churches, working together with the police and council.

They offer help to vulnerable people in the town centre on busy nights, including providing first aid and donating flip flops to those who are too drunk to walk safely on healed shoes.

The new pastors, commissioned by the Rev Paul Rush, mean the numbers of street pastors in Swindon has swelled to about 40. The group were from the November 2010 and November 2011 intakes, and the service followed months of training.

Tina Clements, 60, of Park South, who was commissioned in September 2010, said: “It’s brilliant to have the extra numbers – terrific – because our aim obviously is to try to cover New Town, the clubs area, on a Friday and Saturday, but if you haven’t got enough people it’s a problem.

“We do it in fours and if you haven’t got the people you cannot go out, and it’s sad because there are vulnerable people out there. We would also like to cover Old Town but we need a lot more people to cover New Town on a Friday and Saturday night as well as Old Town.

“I think I feel I get more from it than I give. I speak to people I wouldn’t normally have spoken to. The majority are young and if I met them in the street with their hoodies on I’m sure I wouldn’t even catch their eye.”