The ‘Stories from the Streets‘ series focusses on the encounters that our street pastors have during their patrols. This week we tell Tom’s story. Tom’s story comes, straight from the streets that we patrol to our blog. Tom (not his real name) was an individual who our Street Pastors interacted with during December 2020, and who has permitted us to share his story.
Patrolling During December
Despite COVID-19 lockdown measures, our weekly patrols have carried on, whether physically or virtually. In December 2020, the Ashford Street Pastors patrol team set out on a foggy, wet night to walk one more round of Ashford town centre.
As was the case during much of December, the streets were quiet. COVID measures have meant that the usual evening crowds have been absent. Many of the patrols we have carried out recently have been to keep an eye out for vulnerable individuals such as people who are homeless. If appropriate and we are given permission, we liaise with Ashford Borough Council and Kent Police about individuals we encounter so that they can be helped to safer situations.
A Chance Encounter
Though not usually part of our regular patrols, that evening, our team felt called to check the car parks around the town centre. Not having met with a single person, the team headed towards the car park where they were all parked to finish off the night when, out of the corner of their eye, one of our Street Pastors spotted some movement. Deciding to check it out, the team discovered Tom, a young man who had recently been made homeless, huddled in a corner.
In his 30s, all his worldly possessions in a single carrier bag, he politely answered the team’s questions. Was he all right? Did he need help? What had happened to him?
Tom told them that he had been made redundant because his company was financially affected by the COVID regulations. As a result, he had not been able to keep up with his rent. He was still shocked by how fast he had lost his home and unsure of what to do next.
How Did We Help?
The team contacted the out of hours team at Ashford Borough Council, who took his details and promised to contact him in the morning when the Rough Sleepers Unit would be back in action. The team gave him some water, some biscuits, a foil blanket, topped up his phone battery to fully charged and made sure he was as comfortable as possible.
We do a great deal of signposting to other agencies. The team leader told Tom that one of the local churches ran a cafe on Saturday mornings and he would be made very welcome. He could have a hot drink, some breakfast and be provided with somewhere to have a wash and food for the weekend.
Tom did turn up the following morning and was so grateful for the cafe’s physical comforts. In addition, a church member made a phone call to one of our Street Pastors who works for Porchlight, (Kent’s largest charity for homeless and vulnerable people), and Tom was found accommodation within 48 hours.
Tom said “Ashford Street Pastors have saved my life. I am so grateful for their kindness, concern and practical help.”
Why We Do What We Do
Ashford Street Pastors is for individuals like Tom, who need a small act of kindness to get back on their feet.
“The difference between first meeting Tom, and a week later when we saw him again was massive!” One of the team members said, “I am a part of Street Pastors because of meetings like this, to communicate God’s love in a significant way. Meeting Tom has changed his life, but it has also made an impact on our lives. We do the work we do to bring God’s love to our town, we do it just for the one.”
Interested in joining the Ashford Street Pastors team? Head over to our page to find out if you’ll be a good fit.
Want to help support the work we do? Head over to our donations page.