TEENAGERS struggling with the stresses of modern life are to be offered a sympathetic ear under an extension to the Taunton Street Pastors scheme.

School pastors are being trained to go into Taunton Academy to help students juggling school work, exams and plans for the future.

The initiative is being run under the guidance of Taunton Street Pastors, who go out on the county town’s streets in the early hours every weekend offering help to vulnerable young people.

TSP chairman of trustees Hazel Hare said: “We’re excited to have this further development in the care of young people in our town – it complements the work of street pastors.

“It’s a really practical way for the churches to get out and support their communities, particularly teenagers going through challenging times at school and college.”

Adrian Prior-Sankey, TSP leader, said school pastors in other towns have helped young people reach their potential, as well as contributing to well-being, and cutting petty crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said: “In living memory there has never been a more difficult time to be a teenager, and many are struggling not just with school work, but with a loss of identity and assurance about what their value is, as well as the uncertainty of future employment.

“School pastors are trained volunteers from community-based local churches who work under the guidance of heads and governors to provide support and mentoring for youngsters as they leave educational premises at the end of the afternoon, and inside schools, too.

“In many places this support has also provided reassurance for local residents and shopkeepers near schools who are sometimes apprehensive about noise levels and rowdy behaviour in the area.”

The School Pastors in Taunton scheme is being co-ordinated by Marcus Paul, retired deputy headmaster at Queen’s College.

He said: “We’re grateful to the police and local county councillors for their support, as well as the encouragement by churches of many different traditions in this exciting new project.”

To find out more about School Pastors in Taunton, call Marcus Paul on 01823-412242 or visit www.taunton.streetpastors.org.uk