Weymouth Street Pastors say they have become an important part of the town’s night-time economy helping to keep people safe – as the group prepares to celebrate 10 years of service.

Next week a special evening will take place at All Saints School to mark the milestone .

In the lead-up to the event, the street pastors completed their 1,000th night of patrolling the streets of Weymouth town centre.

Street pastors work to strengthen community life by helping those in need. The group currently meets up every Friday and Saturday from 10pm to the early hours of the morning.

Since starting in 2008, the volunteers have given 24,000 hours to serve the night-time economy.

Dave Rees, co-ordinator of Weymouth Street Pastors says the group is made up of dedicated volunteers from 20 churches from south and west Dorset.

Mr Rees said: “When we first started we were perhaps ridiculed a bit – a lot of our pastors are pensioners and the average age is something like 65-years-old.

“But we have dealt with a whole range of people in the town at night, for example tourists who can’t remember where their hotel is. We also join people together and make sure young people are looked after if they’re in a vulnerable position, so that they’re safe.

“All the pubs and clubs and street pastors have radios and know where each other are, so, if we get a call from one of the pubs we can go straight there.

“The door staff don’t have the time to listen to people's issues, they’re there to do their job. However, we can easily spend two hours with one individual who has real concerns or issues.”

The street pastors work closely with the statutory authorities and partner agencies in the town centre. Mr Rees claims Weymouth is calmer and more peaceful than 10 years ago.

He explained: “From our data analysis the alcohol related incidents we have been involved with has dropped by 75 per cent. The bottled water given out has risen by 150 per cent.

“This could also link to the significant fact that the teams have only had to deal with one incident of anti-social behaviour in the last 15 months whilst they have been on duty in the town centre on a Friday and Saturday night.

“The ethos is to care, listen and help and to show the love of Jesus, that’s what drives us. There is no self-gratification, we are here to serve our community.

“We are recognised and have become part of the night-time economy of Weymouth. Our people are dedicated it doesn't matter if it's in rain or shine.”

The event will take place on Wednesday, April 25 at 7pm. Reverend Les Isaac OBE, the founder of street pastors and CEO of Ascension Trust will give a talk during the evening.