Our first patrol since the end of March went on to the streets of Wantage on Friday 4 September. Street Pastors maintained a ‘social distance’ from each other and from members of the public; the latter being easier said than done sometimes.
Street Pastors did not take any lollies out with them, initially, so as to help keep their distance from other people. Of course, many people missed getting a lolly from us although they were glad to see us back on the streets.
We have regularly reviewed our operating procedures following changes in Government regulations. Our Prayer Support Volunteers are ‘working from home’, patrols are shorter and as a result of pubs closing earlier in the evening, our patrols have started earlier and finished around 10.30 pm. Teams now carry a pack of PPE including visors, plastic aprons and over-shoes, etc. for use in emergency situations that would enable us (or another qualified individual) to deal with life-and-death situations.
We patrolled twice in September and five times in October. There were no serious incidents for us to deal with as our streets were much quieter than we are used to. We spent much of our time talking with people, being a ‘listening ear’ and encouraging those who are struggling with ‘the new normal’. Where a large group of people were gathering outside at closing time, we encouraged them to make their way home.
We were in Wantage when a very large lorry had difficulties navigating the corner of Newbury Street and dragged a parked car some distance into the market square. We called the police and reported the incident. No one was injured.
As of 5 November, a National lockdown has been mandated which will see the streets of Wantage and Grove be almost totally vacated at night. We will continue to review the needs of our communities as time progresses and explore options of what help and support we could offer for the time being.