A night out with Norwich Street Partnership: City Pastors
8.30pm on a Saturday evening in mid-November. No glitzy shoes or sparkly top for my night out: solid walking boots and layers of warm clothes. Then it's time to go through the city, looking and listening to the hustle and various groups who are setting off for celebrations.
I make a mental note of the ‘atmosphere’ and arrive at Chantry House with a few others. Tonight we are just a few of the volunteers who have committed to being part of the City Pastors – a group who support and help vulnerable people who are out on Saturday evenings.
There are usually seven of us. We review anything which might impact on the evening, such as concerts or sporting events. Then we pray about the night ahead, sharing bread and wine together. This helps to ground what we do within the Christian faith which connects us all.
It’s time to check the rucksacks: water, flip-flops and vomit bags. Finally, on go our identifying waistcoats and hats. We divide up the team roles – leader, data collector, phone person, rucksack carrier! All done – Prayer Pastors ready with map, phone, paper and pens in order to continually pray, and we’re off.
We meet all sorts of folk, many of whom stop to chat to find out what we are doing or simply say “Thank you, you do a great job“. It’s getting busy along Prince of Wales Road and the Door Staff let us know how the night is so far.
About every 15 minutes we phone the prayer pastors to let them know where we are and what’s happening so they can pray into the situations which arise. The Police register our presence and update us too. We roam the side streets where it is quieter and find a chap who is lost.
We walk with him back to a place he recognises. He’s grateful and assures us he will be alright now.
We see a young girl sitting at the side of the road, head in hands and extremely ‘wobbly’. A couple of us introduce ourselves and gently find out what’s going on. She’s lost contact with her friends and simply wants to go home. We manage to contact a parent on her phone and organise for her to be collected at Safe Haven, another support service housed at the top of Prince of Wales Road. We help the girl to the cabin where she can keep safe, warm and dry while she waits. We’re more effective working together with other support groups.
About 12.30am we return to base for a rejuvenating cuppa and biscuits then head out again. Our brief is not to preach or convert, simply to help vulnerable folk in whatever way we can. We pick up cans and bottles to prevent these becoming weapons in an escalating argument. Some of our work is preventative, yet very simple.
After passing on some flip-flops to someone obviously struggling in heels and offering reviving water to others, we head back around 4am, and after a quick debrief we say our tired goodbyes. On my way home I reflect on the evening’s encounters and realise that I am enriched even though weary.
Want to volunteer or find out more? Contact the Revd Deb Cousins at email@example.com or call 01603 738329.
This article is from...
Articles in this issue...
God at work
We spend most of our waking hours interacting with other people: at home, in our workplace, in a volunteer role, taking part in sporting or other activities. Biddy Collyer takes a look at how we share our faith outside of our "Sunday lives"More
Loitering with Godly intent
Archdeacon Karen explores chaplaincy in the workplace.More
Loving and serving the Lord in the workplace
Audrey Sharp discusses the challenge of living out our Christian faith actively and intentionally in the workplace.More
Face to Faith – Stephen Andrews
Stephen is a workplace chaplain in Great Yarmouth to Asda, NORSE, Camplings Linen Services and the Borough Services. He is also a Trust Chaplain at the James Paget University Hospital and is an associate priest in the Great Yarmouth Team Ministry.More
God in children’s work at school
Just like many adults, young people spend a large proportion of their day 'at work'; school, A place where, similarly to adults, they attend for set hours, meet and interact with peers, complete tasks, learn skill sets, are encouraged to develop and undergo regular review. We asked four people from across the Diocese to share what they do as Christians in supporting young people in schools.More
Making Christ present – Being chaplain to the police
Fr Christopher Wood talks about his roles as Chaplain to Norfolk Constabulary and to people bereaved by suicide.More
Spiritual health in times of illness
Helen Garrard is Lead Chaplain to Colman and Norwich Community Hospitals. The role has grown to incorporate providing and managing chaplaincy care in 10 community hospitals within the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.More
A very modern ministry: chaplaincy
At a time when our society seems increasingly dominated by secular habits and assumptions, and when religious attendance and affiliation seems to be in decline, chaplaincy remains a public face of faith in a variety of situations. Chris Copsey takes a look at this diverse ministry in Norfolk and Waveney.More