Bath Street Pastors: "Listening, Caring, Helping"
A young girl walks home through the city, alone, in the early hours of the morning. She feels vulnerable – there are a group of young men who may or may not be following her – either way she feels scared.
Who will come alongside her, to give her peace of mind and to make sure she does get home safely?
A first-year student sits on the pavement in Orange Grove, as taxis speed around the corner a few feet from where he sits. This is his first time in Bath on a Friday night, and he’s had way too much to drink. His friends are nowhere to be found.
Who will keep him safe, help him to get sober, to find his way to the bus and to get back up the hill to University?
A young man leaves a nightclub at 3 in the morning. Not drunk but not sober either. He recently attempted suicide, around the anniversary of his father’s death. He feels guilty because of unresolved issues between himself and his father. The nightclub is 100 yards from the river Avon.
Who will get alongside this young man, listen to his story, make sure he doesn’t do anything foolish?
Two rival gangs are involved in a standoff at the railway station. The police are trying to disperse them but getting nowhere – their approach is making things worse.
Who will step in and speak to these young people in a calming, non-threatening way?
These are all stories of real people and real situations on the streets of Bath on a Friday and Saturday night. And the answer to the question in each case is and was: Street Pastors.
Bath Street Pastors is part of an international network, overseen by the Ascension Trust, comprising teams of Christians who take to the streets of towns and cities throughout the UK (and beyond).
We currently have a team of around 40 active volunteers, drawn from 28 churches in and around Bath. Teams of 3-4 people patrol the streets from 10 pm to around 3 am on a Friday and Saturday. Bath Street Pastors has the strong support of the police, local authority and other agencies involved in the ‘night-time economy’.
So, what do Street Pastors actually do? In some ways, there is no straight answer to that question, because every shift is different. But typically, we follow a route which aims to take in all the main bars and night clubs. We are in radio contact with the police and other agencies working on the streets and will aim to respond to any reports we hear or direct requests for our help. Otherwise, we aim to be led by the Lord to the places where we need to be.
Each of the stories outlined at the beginning relate to real incidents:
· We were able to talk to the suicidal man and discovered a mutual connection with one of our team members – he was in much better shape by the time he had walked through town with us!
· The girl got home safely and was grateful for the support.
· The drunk student sobered up enough (after a while!) to get to the bus stop, where we discovered one of his friends waiting for the bus.
· One of the gangs dispersed after some calming words from one of our team members.
All new recruits undertake an initial training programme and there are regular ongoing training sessions which tackle the issues we face as we walk the streets.
If you find any of the above inspiring and would like to get involved then please do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to any serving Street Pastors in your church. We would love to welcome you out on patrol as an observer. If you are interested in joining us the next training is as follows:
Saturday 25th April 9.30 - 15.30: Roles and Responsibilities
Friday 1st May 19.15-21.00: Good News and Prayer
Friday 15th May 19.15-21.00: Operational Guidelines