Norfolk Sheriff on streets with stars of night
2010: High Sheriff of Norfolk, and well-known stockbroker, Charlie Barratt recently spent a night on the streets of Norwich with the Norfolk Street Pastors. Here is his own story of what happened.
Returning home at 3.00am, I creep into my warm soft bed and reflect on an extraordinary evening.
Norwich, and indeed the whole of England, was in a state of shock - England 0 V Algeria 0, but perhaps this non-event played out by overpaid primadonas puts the ‘real world’ in perspective.
There really are ‘Good Samaritans’, not just in The Holy Land, but in Norwich as well and I met them on Friday night.
Strengthened and protected by prayer, the group of six, and me as an observer, set out at 10pm to quietly roam the streets of Norwich.
Princes Street, St Andrews Hill, London Street, Gentleman’s Walk, Brigg Street, Timberhill, Rouen Road, King Street, Riverside, Prince of Wales Road, Upper King Street, Tombland and back to the United Reformed Church at 2am.
As we went up and up Prince of Wales Road, the skirts also rose higher and higher, but this was all good fun of the young enjoying themselves.
Calling and visiting the regular people of the night, the Salvation Army soup kitchen, the Waterside, we spoke to hot dog and ice-cream sellers, we spoke to bouncers and Police, we visited the SOS bus, all of whom knew, loved and respected the ‘Street Pastors’.
But, above all, we looked in every nook and cranny for the ‘lost souls’ and the homeless. Those suffering from alcohol, drugs, depression and loneliness - no stone was left unturned. A few words of comfort, help, support and love; a biscuit bar and hot cup of coffee; and one could see faces turn from anxiety and depression into warmth, love and a smile.
From a personal point of view, I set out with nervousness and like the gentile I ‘passed on the other side’ to begin with. But with the Pastors’ own confidence and strength, I started talking to the poor souls hunched with blankets and dogs in doorways and I too began to smile and realised these all had a story to tell (they just needed somebody to tell them to and listen).
I had no fear, I did not feel the cold, or tire at the hour, and to cap it all I met a friendly face who often sells the Big Issue for a final chat before leaving the Street Pastors for another two hours' work.
England is a good place. The homeless and the party goers are all good people - but the Street Pastors really are ‘the stars of the night’.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to come out with them for an evening - I now know who ‘The Good Samaritan’ really was.
Pictured above is High Sheriff of Norfolk Charlie Barratt with some Norfolk Street Pastors.