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The power and importance of (just) listening

I don’t feel I can share too many details of this one but we met a lady who initially thanked us for what we do and asked if she could have her photo taken with us. We obliged and she then began to tell us about her life, which included mental health problems and the fact that she drinks to numb the emotional pain she goes through every day because of her circumstances. We listened attentively for some 25 minutes keeping eye contact to let her know she had our full attention, at the end of which she thanked and hugged us and said it had REALLY helped her just to have someone care and she felt a burden had been lifted off her.

A lady came up to us and asked what Street Pastors do. We briefly explained, and she then spent the next 10 minutes talking to us about her life story. She had lived a very difficult life – her partner had become a drug addict, and been violent to her and their kids. She had to move out, but had bailiffs coming after her because of his debts and many other difficulties. I did nothing but listen. Once she had finished, she looked like a weight had been lifted off her. She looked at us, thanked us so much for helping and told us we were brilliant! She had to rush off to meet her friends, and as she left she shook my hand, but made the point of holding my hand with both of her hands and thanked us again. I had done nothing but listen!