A night in Norwich clubland with City Pastors
Twice a month, a team of City Pastors from Norwich Street Partnership spend the night out on the clubland streets of Norwich looking after clubbers and being a calming presence. Keith Morris spent an evening with them.
Spending a few hours with the City Pastors was a real eye-opener for me. It was a busy night when there were bands, street entertainment and fireworks to draw in the crowds.
We started the evening at 9.30pm with a team meeting for prayer and communion at Chantry Hall next to Chapelfield Shopping Centre together with the prayer pastors. They spend the evening inside, in prayer with ten-minute updates via a mobile from the team on the streets.
Led by Rev Debs Cousins, we wandered about with the City Pastors chatting with members of the public, Police officers and Community Support Officers with whom they work closely.
During the evening the pastors pick up dozens of bottles and cans from the streets and put them in bins, thereby removing potential weapons.
It was when we turned into Queen’s Street that the mood changed noticeably with the streets full of young people – mostly in their mid-twenties, many clutching glasses or bottles.
Even at 11pm there were people who had clearly had too much to drink or been taking drugs and were not in full control of their behaviour.
Once in Prince of Wales Road – “the most dangerous street in Norfolk” the mood seemed darker still with the odd crying woman and drunken men and women. The queues for the numerous night clubs lengthened.
Bottles of water are given out to those who are feeling sick or who are homeless and flip-flops to mostly women walking around in bare feet as their heels are too uncomfortable or broken.
The City Pastors are on good terms with the nightclub bouncers – one of whom I recognised as a former youth club member and now set on a Police career.
They also work closely with the SOS Bus at one end of Prince of Wales Road and the Safe Haven team at the other – they both provide hot drinks, a place to sit down and sober up or get first aid treatment.
The City Pastors intervened a couple of times to help drunk passers-by phone a friend or point them in the direction of somewhere to sober up a bit.
They use a friendly word or a bar of chocolate to calm potentially aggressive situations.
Later in the evening, particularly after kicking out time after 1am, things liven up considerably and much of the City Pastors work is done then until they call it a night, or morning, at around 3am.
The team currently go out twice a month and are looking for more volunteers so that they can increase the frequency of their patrols.
If you would like further information or one of the team to visit your church or group to talk about the work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or ring Rev Deb Cousins on 01603 738329