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Weekly Reports

3rd June 2017

Street Pastors: Graham, Ali, Gwyn, Mig, Tony and Hilda (observing)

Prayer pastors: Mary and Granville

A slight hiatus with the key to Switch meant that we were a little late starting but it was a warm and pleasant evening weather-wise and the mood on the streets was equally sunny. A reggae busker in Jubilee Square ensured that all passers by were ‘jammin’ along for pretty much the whole night.

This was all over-shadowed of course by the emerging news of the attack at London Bridge which we first became aware of on the TV screens in Society Rooms and prompted us to check our smart phones. There was a notably large police presence in the town thereafter, we’re not sure if it was directly related. Terrible events and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost loved ones and of course for our London based Street Pastor colleagues.

In terms of our notable encounters:

We came across a young lady sat on the floor in Week Street in an agitated and incoherent state. She was speaking to various men on the phone and yelling obscenities at them and passers by. She’d been to visit her father in prison and we suspect that she may have been using drugs and possibly ‘spice’, she did mention that in conversation. Eventually we managed to speak to one of the people she was calling who came and meet her at Urban Blue. We remained a little concerned about the nature of that relationship and even more so when they disappeared up the dark alley which runs from Gabriel’s Hill up to the entrance of Dusk til Dawn and The Mall. We did a bit of a search up there but they must have come out somewhere as nowhere to be seen. Interesting alleyway that – worth a look down there but not for the faint hearted! Later in the evening she was spotted again in a relatively sober state, we think with a relative. Amazingly, amidst all that, she had her own flip flops, the word is spreading.

We met ‘Z’ a lady who had been in a very sorry state around the turn of the year and sleeping rough/begging etc. She now has a place at Lily Smith House and we almost failed to recognise her she looked so well. Great news.

Later in the evening we had a largely positive theological debate with ‘L’ and ‘N’, trainee osteopaths. Ali was able to share a bit of her testimony which I think struck a chord with  ‘N’ and we were able to debate ‘the origin of man’ with ‘L’. Extraordinary the lengths that people will go to, to try and explain away God through massively complex and spurious scientific explanation……none of it really answered the question we posed which was ‘why?’ Would be good to pray that those seeds take hold during the coming week and they have the opportunity to pause and reflect.

On a more trivial note, we were forewarned that Coxheath had been hosting an international custard pie throwing contest and there was some concern that this might spill over into the town later in the evening. I’m pleased to report that no custard related violence was reported.

All in all a quiet and peaceful night in Maidstone at least. Long may that continue here and elsewhere.

 

10th June

Street Pastors: Tony W, Sheila P, Stella, Carol, Steve J ( second half)

Prayer Pastors: Sheila S and Tim and Steve J (first half)

Observers: Archdeacon Stephen Taylor

Photographer and cupboard sorted Nigel Downes

We started our evening with a time of worship led by Steve J. His message was to let God take control of us rather than we trying to take control of God which was very thought provoking. We had a couple of rousing songs and headed out.

The evening was warm and dry, so warm that jackets were a bit of a hindrance.

Town was reasonably busy for a non payday and, because of the lovely weather there were many congregating in places such as Jubilee Sq making good use of this public space.

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, was out on the town and both SP teams got to meet him and his associate, Neil. From our brief discussions he seems very well informed as to the issues facing the police in Kent and clearly keen to address these issues. We were left feeling confident that he was a very good appointment to this role.

Val from Urban Blue was on holiday but there was a good number in the team on duty. The bus and awning were in situ so they were all up and ready for action.

The radio reported an unconscious female at Society rooms which we were alerted to by base and went to see if help was needed. The lady was on a chair when we arrived and Urban Blue came at about the same time and took charge.

Whilst outside County Hall we encountered a real Disney experience. A hen party all dressed as Disney cartoon characters. We spent a few minutes identifying the characters – the costumes were so good that it was not that hard although there were about 12 of them in the party. The ladies had enjoyed their night and were getting into a minibus go home so we wishes them safe journey.

A new homeless guy K from Chatham was chatted to. He was hoping to be housed next week so prayers were said for his safety and well being. At break we tried to find him with a tent from our cupboard but unfortunately no sign of him.

Archdeacon Stephen left us at the break time and it had been really good to have him with us again. He had been out with us a few years ago and did notice the change in town, fewer clubs and fewer people around. Hopefully he enjoyed his time with the team and we would love to welcome him back at any time!

We had some very sad news about Daz, someone known to us all for many years. He went into hospital on Monday with pneumonia and unfortunately died on Friday. This has affected many of the people we talk to, not only the homeless guys but also many door and club staff. We were told by several stories of his kindness.

One team asked C who sits in the archway outside Muggletons to let the team know next week of the funeral arrangements. The other team asked for a message to be given to P at Kaila Red so hopefully we will be able to be represented at the funeral. It seems there are problems with his immediate family but hopefully things will be sorted shortly.

Just before midnight we were alerted to a young man on his own in Gabriels Hill. We went to speak to him to try to help. He lived with his Nan but had only just moved there and had not been able to get her on the phone before his battery ran out. We tried on our phone but only got an answerphone. There were clearly family issues and he appeared quite vulnerable. He was going to walk home so we left him at that point.

After our break we met with P who was sat on the pavement in Week St. He had been drinking but was very upset that he had “let everyone down”. Gradually we got the details that he was a member of a large church known to us, he was married with a 6 week old son. He was ashamed of himself and we tried to reassure him that we all make stupid mistakes but are forgiven when we are truly sorry. Steve prayed for him and we walked with him to the taxi rank. He did not have enough money and as we were talking to the taxi marshals about alternatives P walked away from us, possibly to a cash point but he seemed back in charge of himself.

We then went back down Gabriels Hill to check on whether our young man was still there  He was stood in a corner and much less responsive to us. Whilst we were trying to talk to him at about 2.15am  a large altercation occurred outside Strawberry Moons. The police presence in town was very visible ( any connection to the police crime commissioner being out?) and they were quickly at the scene and about 3 young men seemed to be going for bed and breakfast at the station.

The police maintained a presence outside the club and things soon quietened down.

We told our young man not to go towards the crowd that were still outside Moons but we went to Urban Blue to ask them to check on him as we were certain he was affected by more than alcohol. We saw them 10 minutes later and they said he refused all help despite being asked 5 times and there was nothing they could do. A very sad young man in a very difficult family situation.

Apart from this one violent  event the town was very quiet so we headed back at about 2.45am.

 

17th June

Team was : Kimberly, Sharon, Anne, Alan and Miya with Katy and Beryl praying and Alan Beardsley (?) as a Prayer observer.

We met up on a very warm night! First time I ever remember going out just our t-shirts! it was a little funny and felt slightly vulnerable….

There were a decent number of people out due to warm wether we presumed, as it wasn’t pay day. Before we left base we heard on the radio of an altercation near Muggletons with a couple of the homeless, so we headed up in a team of 5. We didn’t recognised the guys and having spoken to the ladies that were near by (fellow homeless) the guys had apparently recently been released from jail and were quite drunk, and fighting, although it wasn’t clear who they were fighting. Urban Blue were there when awe arrived, so we let them do their job and stayed on the perimeter.

While we were there we met a lady J, who was stranded. A friend booked a cab for her and said he would meet her in town and pay the fare, but never arrived. The cab company then took her phone as collateral, but then of course she had no numbers. She also had no money with her. We walked to Sapphire Cars with her to have a chat. The ladies at the desk were really great, but I can appreciate they must deal with this type of thing often. They let her have her phone, and after several attempts to rouse someone, J promised to come in Monday morning to pay the fare, and they let her go, trusting she would. J then tried to get ahold of her boyfriend to pick her up. He was apparently cooking and didn’t want to come out. (!!) Fortunately J had a bus pass, but the bus she needed wasn’t around, then, before our eyes, the bus number changed to the one she needed and she was off. We called it an answer to prayer…

As a follow up from last weeks report regarding Daz’s funeral: We saw C near Muggleton’s and asked him if he had heard anything, and he said he only knew Salvation Army was involved. We headed over to Kala Read to see P and see if there was any news. He said that it was likely to be another couple weeks yet. S, Daz’s friend with the ferret was out and we had a couple long chats with her. She is really lovely to talk to and really sad, and we were given a really good insight to the closeness of the community, despite the troubles between some of them at times. S had been to see Daz, and found him struggling to breathe and called the ambulance. She was also with him when he died last Friday. There is a lady S spoke very highly of who has been her contact at the hospital. This lady has been incredibly helpful and understanding. Apparently there was a lot of talk about sending Daz to Tonbridge Wells, but the lady on behalf of S and the others in town had fought for the service to be at Vinters Park Crematorium in Maidstone as that was where all his friends were. P said Salvation Army is paying for the service…so we just await a date. If the team out on the 24th can check in again there will hopefully be further news.

We talked to the really tall doorman from Gallery (name escapes me) who was at Ashes. He said Gallery is planned to open in September again.

The rest of the night up to and after the break was very quiet, people milling around, Urban Blue not busy, and the Reggae guy out again driving everyone crazy with the SAME tune over and over. Even the rough sleepers were sick of him!

We had a good chat with two ladies at Trinity just after one of the had called the police about someone hopping their fence…turned out to be one of their own having a wee….had chats with J from Source as usual, Paul from Urban Blue was out and looking well, and Counsellor DN who only hung out with us for a short while.

We turned into base about 2:30.