By 2020 Tricia Thomas
Last night at 9.30pm, Richie and I joined Robert Thomas of Vennture as observers of The Street Pastors. A cross-church programme, The Street Pastors are trained volunteers who go out into the city in teams of 3 each weekend night. Their motto is ‘Have a good time, Come home safe’.
The Street Pastors help those who are in a vulnerable situation due to alcohol, injury or circumstance, acting as intermediaries between the door staff, CCTV control and the police. They keep people out of A&E and avert police involvement where they can.
We followed the team of Sue, Philip and Anthony and it was great to see them greeted with friendly banter and shouts of ‘thank you for being here’. With night clubs closed, more people were milling around outside with long queues at pubs as people waited to be let in.
Radio contact meant Street Pastors quickly responded to incidents. With a calm, non-judgmental, professional approach, they provided first aid, water, advice, a listening ear, and flip flops (high heels - ouch). They called in specialist intervention only if necessary.
Over the hours, the team dealt with minor injuries from falls, more serious intoxication ending in A&E, liaised with parents, diffused a domestic situation, supported door staff and were an extra pairs of eyes. They did not get involved with non-payers, violence to taxi drivers and door staff or suspicious activity but from the radio knew what else was going on. What was surprising was the number of cars racing round and round, and young teenagers on bicycles out in the early hours – what were they doing?
At 3am we headed for home, feeling privileged to have been observers for the night. Thank you Robert for the invitation and to Sue, Philip and Anthony for welcoming us. We will not view a Saturday night in Hereford in the same way, as we now know how much is going on in the background.