Last year (2017), someone visited the church I go to and shared his experience as a Street Pastor and how you could get involved with this. I was touched by the work they are doing during the night time in the Rugby Town Centre. I felt that I should get involved because I have been homeless, lived in a night shelter and had some issues with alcohol in the past. People helped, cared and showed their love to me when I was so low and desperate. I wanted to give something back to the community and perhaps to share my experience of how to get out of this “pit”. Street pastors are not going out to talk about God, or faith but to show that we care, love and want to help people during the night. Sometimes people talk to us about God or religion and we share with them.
At the beginning of 2017 I started a 50 hours training session over a period of about 10 months. You receive basic training about e.g.: your community, first aid, drugs and alcohol awareness, listening skills, conflict resolution. . Having completed most of the training sessions I was commissioned at a service held at the Rugby Baptist Church on 10th September. I received my Street Pastor cap and went out “on duty” for the first time in October. The purpose of a Street Pastor is to provide a Christian presence on the streets in local communities, to care, to listen, and provide practical help, to any of the patrons of the night time economy in need of assistance. In Rugby we have teams patrolling every Friday & Saturday night and Bank Holidays from 10.00pm – approximately 4.00am the next morning. We have 39 Street Pastors, all unpaid volunteers, making up 8 separate teams. As a Team we are going out once a month and my Team consists of 3 men and 1 female, but sometimes there are 2 female Street Pastors in the Team.
Through the Night we walk through the Centre of Rugby and look out for people to make sure they are OK. We have 2 breaks during the night and McDonalds is serving us during the last break with a hot chocolate. The nights can be quiet or can be very busy for us. During my first 2 “outings” we met a young man who had injected himself with drugs and could hardly stand on his feet. Two young ladies whose relationships hit the rocks, homeless people sleeping in the shops doorways and a lady who was unwell and an ambulance had to be called in. A presence of Street Pastors at 3.00 in the morning around the Clock Tower in Rugby Town Centre, where intoxicated clubbers congregate whilst waiting for a taxi, brings a calming, reassuring influence. Many people have said they feel much safer when they see Street Pastors are watching out for them. People in Rugby are now aware that the Street Pastors are there to help them in a practical way. Whether Street Pastors are pointing people in the right direction, persuading someone not to do something they would subsequently regret, providing emergency first aid, giving out flip-flops and lollies, or just being a shoulder to cry on, they are practically demonstrating the Christian ethos of caring for one another. We collect and bin empty bottles and glasses, and sweep up broken glass during our walk as well. I am privileged to do this kind of voluntary work where I can serve the community and to make sure people are going home safely after an evening out clubbing and to create a safer environment for each other to live in.