City Pastors is an initiative involving volunteers working in partnership with Birmingham’s Westside & Southside Business Improvement Districts to ensure that the city is a safe, vibrant environment for everyone who visits.
The project began back in 2010 out of a desire for Christians from local churches to serve the city of Birmingham in a relevant and meaningful way. We initially explored working with Street Pastors, but with their blessing, and in discussion with key people in the city, we felt that the night-time economy needed something more bespoke and integrated.
Our most strategic and significant contact was with Mike Olley who heads up the Westside Business Improvement District. A Business Improvement District (BID) is a defined area within which the businesses have voted to invest collectively in additional local projects and services to enhance their trading performance and environment.
Our discussions with the BID initiated a trial project with a small number of people in November of 2010. We received a warm welcome and quickly found we could add value by providing an essential pastoral bridge between door staff, policing teams and the general public. We also supported the Street Wardens in helping the vulnerable and marginalised.
Following that successful trial we began to firm up our identity with our logo and distinctive black and white jackets and had an official launch on 25th May 2011 with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham at that time, Anita Ward and Assistant Chief Superintendent, Pete Blackburn, Head of West Midlands Christian Police Network during that period. Also in attendance were the church leaders of our three main partner churches, Birmingham City Church, Birmingham Vineyard and St. John’s Harborne.
Our next development was to explore expansion into the Southside entertainment district of the city. We were approached by Julia Chance, the BID manager of Southside and we subsequently met with the Southside BID Board. City Pastors were then invited to expand into the Southside district which encompasses the Chinese Quarter, Gay Village and entertainment district which includes the Birmingham Hippodrome, one of the UK’s busiest theatres. Our first teams began working in Southside in December 2012 and have continued to make an impact ever since.