A new hub that will provide medical assistance and welfare support to residents and visitors in Reading has opened in the town centre.
Reading Safe Space, which was delivered with Home Office funding secured by Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, and Reading Borough Council will be the new permanent home for Reading Street Pastors and First Stop.
Reading Street Pastors and First Stop have worked collaboratively for many years providing assistance to people out in Reading town centre on Friday and Saturday nights. First Stop provide medical assistance to those in need, administering first aid with the support of paramedics from the South Central Ambulance Service. Reading Street Pastors are a group of volunteers from local churches who help and support people on weekend evenings and at major local events including Reading Festival, Royal Ascot and Reading University Freshers Week.
In addition to being the permanent home for Reading Street Pastors and First Stop, Reading Safe Space will deliver a range of community safety related services including crime prevention advice and training and support for victims of crime.
Funding for the Space, which is located at St Mary’s Church House on Chain Street, was secured following a successful bid by the PCC and Reading Borough Council to the Safer Streets Fund.
Speaking at its launch on 5 October, PCC Matthew Barber said: “I am delighted that my office was able secure Safer Streets funding to deliver the Reading Safe Space.
“Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of joining First Stop and Reading Street Pastors on a Friday evening shift to see first-hand the essential support they provide to people on a night out in the town centre. It is great that both organisations will now have a permanent home in the town and that the Safe Space will provide other important community safety related services, including support for victims of crime.”
Sally Leonard, Reading Street Pastor Co-Ordinator, said: “First Stop and Street Pastors are excited to have a permanent home of our own where we will continue to provide vital services to the people of Reading particularly on a Friday and Saturday night.”
Penny Meadley, Specialist Practice Manager for South Central Ambulance Service NHSFT, added: “South Central Ambulance NHSFT are delighted to be moving with First Stop into our new home where we will have the space and facilities to help see and treat any patients who need our help on a Friday or Saturday night.”
In addition to Reading Safe Space, Safer Streets funding has also been used to establish the Safer Students partnership between Reading Borough Council, the University of Reading, Reading University Students’ Union, Reading College and night time venues in the town to improve safety for students in Reading. The initiative will seek to provide clear and accessible information about safety services including First Stop and Ask for Angela and will promote access to personal safety tools like anti-spiking devices.