Newlyn’s Victoria Howard is three months into her nine month stay in the Seychelles and is just about to launch a Night Pastors scheme on the island.


Victoria, 60, is spending nine months in the Seychelles on placement with the Journey with Us volunteer programme, run by the Anglican mission agency Us (formerly USPG).

The occupational psychologist from Newlyn has returned to the country of her birth and has used her experience in Penzance helping to set up and run the Street Pastors Scheme to launch the first Paster Lannwit (Creole for Night Pastors).

Victoria said: “I had helped to set up then run Penzance Street Pastors scheme for nearly three years through Churches Together and as a result of that initiative levels of crime, anti-social behaviour and violence went down. Working with Penzance Street Pastors really strengthened my faith – but I also had an ambition to go abroad.”

Through Us, Victoria agreed to help establish a street pastors-style project on the Seychelles. She said: “Despite an exotic image as a paradise island, the Seychelles has social problems just like everywhere else and it was felt the churches could work together to make a difference.”

Working alongside a mentor, Victoria has visited local agencies to see what problems there are and what help is available and she has been involved in giving presentations to government departments, attended meetings with government ministers and the police. “We have been successful in winning support, so much so that we are preparing for the public launch of Paster Lannwit, although there is still a lot to do including recruiting and training volunteers.”

Victoria was born in the Seychelles where her parents were church workers before they were expelled from the country when Victoria was just two years old for defending low-paid plantation workers and exposing mal-administration in the Governor’s Office.

Returning to the country has proved an emotional experience for Victoria personally. “Coming back was very emotional. I had only been two when we left so had no early memories. In my first week here, while sitting on the verandah at the Bishop’s house, I had to choke back tears as it was the same verandah I played on as a toddler and I’d seen the film footage taken by my father at the time.”

Victoria says it has been lovely to hear her parents spoken of so warmly. “I have learned that my father, who was Archdeacon, and my mother who set up the Mother’s Union, were much loved here.”

Victoria is enjoying the experience immensely. “I feel I am very much in the right place. So much so that my brother said it seemed I had found my niche after a 60-year-old sojourn in the UK!”

Outside of her church work, Victoria has joined a local weekly Zumba class and a walking group as well as keeping up with bible reading, prayer and meditation. “When it all feels too much, I offload in emails to friends at home who are praying for me. This placement has been a wonderful opportunity to serve God in the land of my birth and to face challenges by trusting in him.
I have realised that ‘mission’ is a concept that is hard to understand until you start doing it and know what you are doing.”

Journey with Us is a self-funding placement scheme. It has been in operation for over 60 years and is open to volunteers aged 18 to 80, offering placements of up to 12 months with Us church partners.

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