I was very touched by an incident from my last patrol, which in SO many ways sums up what we do
We came across a middle aged lady collapsed in a side street with 3 or 4 members of the public around her, trying to help. As soon as they saw us, they called us over with some relief, saying “You’ll be able to help her won’t you?”.
We assured them we could but it really spoke to me of the trust we have built up over the years to the point where they were completely confident to leave her with us, which they did.
We started to try and rouse her, to find out her name, address etc. but she was so “comatose” that all we could get out of her were some unintelligible burblings; so, out of politeness more than anything; we told her we would look through her bag and pockets to see if we could find some ID for her or someone we could maybe call to come and help.
There was no ID whatsoever in her bag or pockets. Hope was raised when we found her phone, then dashed when we found it had no battery life on it so we couldn’t call anyone on her address list. We turned on our secret weapon and rang the Prayer Pastors!
I must say it took over a minute (!) but the answer came walking around the corner in the form of two Policewomen who not only knew the lady as a street sleeper but also the hostel she was staying at! To our delight, they also offered to radio for a van to take her there.
While we were waiting for the van, one of our ladies, B, began to cuddle her as a mum would and, even in her drunken state; I watched the lady respond and snuggle in to B’s shoulder.
The van came and we helped her in but she began to cry, looking at us and it was quite hard to watch as the door was closed – I don’t know but I like to think that through the tears, she was crying out for more of the affection she had just had and which, in all probability, hadn’t had much of lately.
I’ve thought a lot about that incident and realised how much of what we do is summed up in that meeting – the trust of the public; the amazing answered prayers (again!), the love given through what we do and the deep effect it has.