A River reporter joins five Street Pastors on an interesting Saturday night out.
Street Pastors are Christian volunteers who patrol British towns and cities as a safety net for people who have had a bit much to drink.
Barry Fisher, a father of two and Street Pastor for almost five years, says: “If someone’s not an emergency case, but they’ve had a bit too much to drink, they’re putting themselves in a vulnerable spot if they were just left alone. They need care basically. That might be a typical thing we would do that the police or nightclubs wouldn’t be able to.”
What’s it all about?
I accompanied Barry and a group of four other Street Pastors on a Saturday night’s work to see what they were all about. The night is split into three ‘shifts’, with the team going out for three two-hour periods from 10pm until 4pm.
The first shift is relatively uneventful – we do a few laps of Kingston and the river, chatting to door staff to find out which clubs are likely to be busy and picking up glass bottles “to stop them being used as weapons later in the evening”.
Head wound from fight
We help clean up one girl who has been sick on herself before making it to a club and get her a taxi home. With Cathy, another Street Pastor, we talk to a few homeless people and buy them coffees or Subways before heading back to their base, the Kingston United Reformed Church on Eden Street, to warm up.
However, almost immediately we are called out to give first aid to a man with a head wound from a fight – it is a busy evening for emergency services and there is a three-hour wait for ambulances.
“The mood in town changes as the night goes on,” Barry tells me.
“It’s all nice and quite friendly at the beginning, but as it wears on and people have more to drink the mood changes to: ‘Who knows what’s going to happen next?’”
Read what happens on the night in Friday’s (April 26) issue of The River.