TWO Bideford schools are to be among the first in the country to have their own School Pastors.

When the Bideford scheme is launched at Bideford College on Monday night, the college and neighbouring Kingsley School will jointly become only the second schools to ‘go live’ since the national launch of the scheme earlier this year.

The scheme was previously piloted in six London areas and in Plymouth earlier this year.

Training has already started to enable Ilfracombe College to also join the initiative in the New Year.

School Pastors is an initiative which follows on from the now familiar Street Pastors, run by the Christian based Ascension Trust, which operates internationally.

Street Pastors can be seen locally in Bideford, Barnstaple, Braunton and Ilfracombe, regularly patrolling the towns at night and providing support for those in need of a helping hand or a listening ear.

Bideford co-ordinator Duncan Withall said: “Specially trained School Pastors will engage with young people in their own environment, in a caring, listening and helping role, encouraging their relationship with their peers, school and community. By being available in a caring and non-judgemental manner our aim is to help each individual to achieve their potential.”

The launch of the Bideford initiative takes place at the college at 7pm on Monday night.

The Rev Les Isaac, founder of Street and School Pastors, will be attending and talking about his vision for young people. There will also be an opportunity to talk to people involved in the local schemes.

Wings South West, a Christian based charity which works with schools, students and those not in employment, education or training in the Bideford area, has helped to set up of the Bideford scheme.