This report is from Ann Clifford, about her experience as a Street Pastor in West Ealing:
‘Street Pastors have been patrolling in Ealing Broadway for two years now. I joined a year ago and as a resident of West Ealing, was extremely excited when, three weeks ago, we had our first patrol in West Ealing.
What is a Street Pastor? A Street Pastor is someone who’s main role is to make themselves available to care, listen, support and help all people on the street, particularly the young and vulnerable. We also pick up bottles so they cannot be used as weapons. You’ll be surprised to learn that amongst other things, we carry with us space blankets, spikies (a device you put on a bottle to stop it being spiked), and of course flip flops. Why flip flops? I can’t tell you how many young girls have, by the end of the evening, either lost their shoes or are unable to walk in them. So, much to their delight, we give them free flip flops to protect their feet.
So here I was, on a Friday night, walking the streets ofWest Ealingwith 5 other Street Pastors. We wear a uniform and a cap emblazoned with ‘Street Pastor’ so we are easy to spot. We always cause a stir as people wonder who we are and why on earth we are on the street. That night we were amazed as we dropped into the various shops, restaurants, take-aways and pubs, how warm people were to us as we explained what we were doing. It must be hard for the shopkeepers who keep open until the early hours or all night. Often they are on the front line of abusive language and behaviour. They are always amazed when they find out that we have paid for our own training; that we are volunteers; and we simply want to be part of helping to keep our patch safe and peaceful.
Since I moved to West Ealingabout three years ago there have been three murders, a drive by shooting, and a lot of late night/early morning disturbance particularly from one pub. As Street Pastors we were keen to pray for the area (we all come from the local Christian community) and to see first hand what goes on at night. We’re not there to talk about our faith; we are simply there to help wherever possible.
West Ealingis the most wonderful multi-cultural melting pot. We lost count of the number of nationalities we met. However, there is drug dealing; young men with their half drunk bottles of whiskey, posturing, gathering in different groups; a potent melting pot with the potential to explode at any time. We walked throughDeanGardens, glad there were six of us. It is such a dark place at night and it seemed obvious to us that it needed some sort of lighting to make it less brooding and ominous.
Street Pastors has been going for over 8 years now. They will be found in most Londonboroughs. Wherever Street Pastors operate there is a proven reduction in street crime and disturbance. We’re also there as a ‘signpost’ for people in need, to help them get connected to the resources available to them.
For me, simply walking ‘my patch’ in the company of others who cared, was fantastic. Street Pastors now aims to patrol West Ealing on a monthly basis. If you would like to support this initiative please contact Lehoma Tannis Harriet email@example.com Web: www.streetpastors.co.uk ‘