Kingston Street Pastor Coordinator: Charlie Bamford with Sue Shaw as deputy
Contact Telephone Number:
firstname.lastname@example.org St Peters Hall, St Peters Church, London Road, Kingston, KT2 6QL
When we meet:
The commitment is a minimum of 2 years and to give up a night’s sleep once a month during the hours of 9.30pm-4am on either Friday or Saturday night. If there are enough volunteers we also go out Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and other special occasions, for example: Halloween
Where do we meet?
Our base is Kingston United Reformed Church, which is on the corner of Union Lane and Eden Street, Kingston.
The group’s object / purpose:
Street Pastors is an ecumenical organization that seeks to build bridges between non-Christians and Christians through the sacrifice of giving up a night’s sleep to come alongside people who might need help or just a friendly chat whilst they are out night clubbing.
There are at least 6 volunteers each night: at least 4 Street Pastors and at least 2 Prayer Pastors. The SPs have a training course that is usually held on Saturdays at 4-weekly intervals. The training is very thorough giving one an insight into how the night-time economy works.
Prayer Pastors or PPs are an essential part of the night as without them the SPs cannot go out. This group is not given training – the ability to pray is all that’s required. It doesn’t matter what your style of prayer is, though it would be sad to miss the opportunity of praying with others from different denominations. Personally, I’ve come to understand that the sacrifice of a night’s sleep is a powerful prayer in God’s eyes! Even just talking to another Christian in the night – getting to know each other and furthering the cause of ecumenicalism is also valuable prayer! God uses everything!
There is no upper age limit – if you are fit and over 18 you will be welcomed. The oldest SP I’ve met so far is 85 years young. A reference from your Parish Priest is required to show that he knows you and a CRB check is also necessary.
Donations, to assist with the work of Street Pastors, can be made here
My name is Tessa Macleod and I joined Street Pastors when it first started in Kingston in November 2006. At that stage the first volunteers were being trained and since I couldn’t commit myself to that, I was a Prayer Pastor for the first 2 years. Finally I did the training – 12 Saturdays over a 5-month period at that time (it has since been shortened to 8 I believe) and I have been a Street Pastor ever since. If you would like to contact me about volunteering with Street Pastors speak to me in church or email me at email@example.com. I have written some more details about our nights below.
On the practical side there is a training course, recently shortened and made more specific to local needs. Our coordinator likes to get new recruits out on the streets as soon as they feel comfortable. So the Street pastor night is from 9.30pm-4am. The first half hour is for arriving, meeting and greeting and gathering news from Police and the CC (Kingston’s elaborate closed circuit surveillance camera operators) of what’s forecast for the town tonight, then we pray and begin our first round. Before we go out we pray, then the team leader organizes who will carry the bags – one contains first aid equipment and the other mostly carries flip flops (to replace those impossibly high heels some girls love to dance in but hate to walk in) and other things we may need to give out during the night. For example: bottles of water, food for the homeless, space blankets (for warming the scantily clad) and the leader also decides which of us will count bottles (we pick up discarded glass so as it doesn’t become a weapon at some point in the night).
A typical first round will consist of exchanging friendly banter with doormen at the Clubs and Bars, with the Police and with those out to enjoy the nightlife. We often hear “Street Pasta” and such echoing as we pass groups of mildly inebriated souls. We return at midnight-ish for a break and chat with the Prayer Pastors (more of which later). After about half an hour, sometimes less, sometimes more depending on circumstances, we go out till approximately 2am then (traditionally) have a ‘meal’ break with chips and coffee!
On the second round between 12 and 2am the streets are quieter, hence our ‘meal’ break. Most people are already in the clubs and those that are not, are in a hurry to get in somewhere before the cut-off time. (Clubs stop accepting customers about 1.30, and the late opening bars close about the same time). Some night’s we meet the unlucky ones who’ve been ejected from a Club early, because they were too inebriated – nightclub rules are very strict about avoiding drink-fuelled disturbances inside – (they’re quite happy to let it go outside). Sometimes we have to miss our break as the CC (Kingston’s surveillance cameras) call us out to help. But if we do get a break the local chip shop often gives us a discount as their way of thanking us for our activities!
The final round between 2am and 4am is the busiest. We walk from Club to Club looking out for sobbing girls, jostling angry young men or the immobilised and calling in situations (by mobile) for the Prayer Pastors to intercede for. Then at a certain point it all dissolves and we go home – first thanking God for using us and cutting off any negative feelings and emotional ties to people and situations we’ve become fleetingly involved in and leaving all this at the foot of the Cross for Jesus to deal with as He wills.
It is a wonderfully satisfying charity. It draws people from all the Christian denominations together – as if there were no barriers to unity. We have an opportunity to learn from and about each other as we share the sacrifice of giving up a night’s sleep. We have an opportunity to pray with and for each other and learn new ways of praying and new openness to God’s ways. His ways of loving! Almost as an added bonus we have the opportunity to pray for people on the streets – to let them know that whatever they’ve done or not done and whatever they feel religion is about, let alone God, they are loved and precious and watched over with tender care.
It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done! Please email me if you would like to come out for a night to see what it’s like. Tessa Macleod at firstname.lastname@example.org