Rev Les Isaac has described as “a great honour” the Queen’s decision to award him an OBE for his work fostering community cohesion in his role as Head of the Ascension Trust.
The Ascension Trust is an umbrella organisation that oversees the work of Street Pastors.
Commenting on his award Rev Isaac said: “This is a great honour and is really recognition of the work that our amazing team of volunteer pastors carry out every weekend providing a much needed listening ear for people on our streets, as well as for school pupils and college students across the country during the week. I am particularly thankful for people who have worked alongside me in a joint effort to build peaceful and strong communities.”
Street Pastors was launched in 2003 as a response to gun and knife crime in Britain’s urban areas. The concept of sending trained pastors to the streets between 10pm and 4pm every Friday and Saturday caught the attention of Christians across the country, who saw it as an effective to engage with their local communities.
There are now 250 street pastors’ teams across the UK, overseeing 10,000 trained individuals who provide over 600,000 volunteer patrol hours every year.
Street Pastors has also been established overseas in various countries including Trinidad, Antigua and Northern Ireland with enquiries being received all the time from individuals in the UK and abroad who are interested in setting up their own teams.
Street Pastors has inspired the launch of School Pastors and College Pastors initiatives where trained volunteers provide support for students in educational establishments. There are currently 10 School and College Pastors teams across the UK, with teams due to launch in Tavistock, Isle of Wight, Ilfracombe, Northern Ireland, Torbay, Cheshire West and Ellesmere Port.
The Ascension Trust is also the umbrella organisation of Word for Weapons, which provides specially made bins where people can leave their knives and weapons. Since it was launched in 2007, over 4,000 weapons have been collected and destroyed.
When Rev Isaac was growing up, he never envisaged that he would become a church leader, let alone be the recipient of an OBE.
Born in Antigua, Rev Isaac came to the UK as a young child to join his parents who lived in north London. He was thrown into London life, less experienced gangs and street violence during his teens. In his search for hope he became a Rastafarian.
Rev Isaac converted to Christianity in his late teens. As a result of experiencing a radical life change, and being inspired by his new found faith, Rev Isaac became committed to make people aware of the spiritual and practical relevance of the Gospel message, and sharing it with everyone – both within the black community and beyond.
The story of Rev Isaac’s early life is told in his debut book “Dreadlocks”, and continued in “Relevant Church”. The inspirational growth of Street Pastors is told in the best seller “Street Pastors”.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Rev Isaac will ensure that his OBE spurs him on in his work to positively impact communities across Britain and make the world a safer place, and encourage his team of volunteers to do the same.