So what’s a night in Leamington like ? Read on . . .
It’s later now. We give some flipflops to 3 girls walking bare foot carrying their high heeled shoes.
A free bottle of water is well received by a lad we find sitting on the pavement trying to clear his head before he tries to set off for home.
We’ve just had another coffee break at base. It’s 2 in the morning and 2 girls are starting to panic because a couple of taxis have refused to take them home because of their mate, who is ‘rather the worse for wear’. It’s cold and home is miles away. We talk to the next taxi and show him they now have a couple of our sick bags and he agrees to take the 3 home. It doesn’t seem like they’ve been careless, it’s just that some days people react unpredictably, or maybe one had had her drink ‘spiked’.
We are called on our 2-way radio by some concerned door-staff who lead us to a girl who has lost her phone and thinks her mates have gone home without her. We reassure her and wait with her for 20 minutes until the club empties and her friends find her.
We sweep up some broken glass and put several discarded bottles out of harm’s way in the nearest bin.
We come across a guy, leaning against a wall. It looks like he was punched earlier. He’s agitated, feeling aggrieved and adamant he doesn’t want the paramedics. We help him clean himself up with our antiseptic wipes, water and hankies. After chatting with him he goes on his way feeling steadier in himself, a little less bitter with the world in general and less likely to take out his anger on someone else.
There are lots of, say, ‘lively’ people about but the town centre doesn’t feel a hostile or unsafe place to be. We know from the radio traffic that the CCTV people keep active watch over everything. A merry trio welcome us and say we’re ‘magic’ and that they couldn’t do what we do. We know we’ve had an enjoyable night as a team and feel quite embarrassed once again by their clearly genuine respect and gratitude.
We exchange cheery greetings with those out & about, “How are you doing?”, “Alright?”. Another group asks “What’s a Street Pastor?” and “Are you paid for this?”. “Why are you doing this?” asks some others and we stop to chat again.
We are always clear that our purpose is to care and not to preach. We answer simply, as individuals, as best we can, what it is that leads us to care. There is a strong feeling that we are not fitting their picture of what Christianity is about and that misconceptions, and perhaps poor experiences of ‘church’ or of Christian people, are being worn away. Some conversations are just a sentence, some want to talk more and last quite a while. We pray for them silently as we walk off. Maybe seeds have been sown.
We get back to base at the end of the night, feeling that we’ve been blessed.
[A collation of actual events from more than one night but not untypical of any given night.
Nights vary a lot and a very quiet one could feel a waste of effort to some people but like a safety-net, do you hope that it’s used or not used and is that a reason not to bother putting it up next time?
At the other extreme, we can witness and get involved in situations, where in the following days it is hard not to feel upset or effected by it. Even if we were able to bring some comfort at the time by listening or in a practical way, we rarely know the outcome, be it of someone ending up in an ambulance or of hearing of some distressing home life or personal situation. This requires a level of personal resilience from our volunteers but this is heavily overlaid by prayer support from a wide and caring team and also if appropriate by one-to-one support from our Coordinator or from others that he/she will suggest might help.
So do we need very special people? We need people like you, who believe that we do all things through Christ our Servant King who strengthens us. ]
Interested in this work ? There are a variety of needs. Please read our Ways to Help page.