Norwich street team hope to increase calming presence
The Norfolk Street Partnership held its AGM on Saturday celebrating the impact the small team has patrolling and praying for the city’s streets at night, and emphasizing that a bigger impact could be made with more volunteers.
During the past year, the Norfolk Street Partnership (NSP) has had a presence in Norwich’s city centre on 20 Saturday nights into the early hours of 20 Sunday mornings.
During these patrols, which focus particularly around the Prince of Wales Road area, the team, made up of 3 or 4 volunteers, has helped 50 vulnerable people to safety. They have given out 50 bottles of water and 25 pairs of flip flops to those in need of them, and picked up over 1300 glass bottles and cans lying on the streets.
The small team of 18 volunteers who go out on the streets at night as a calming presence and who pray for the streets regularly, met for the Norfolk Street Partnership AGM at Sprowston’s Gage Road Chapel on Saturday, March 16 to celebrate their work and reflect on the future.
The team who go out on patrol from 10pm until 3am are enthusiastic about being on the streets at night, appreciating the atmosphere and that everyone is out to have fun. Their role is to offer hope to those who need it, guiding people in trouble to other agencies, standing with people whilst they are vulnerable and getting people safely into a taxi home.
Chair of NSP John Pinnington said: “We are looking for the vulnerable and looking for the marginalized, just as Jesus asked us to. We are out to show love to those people. And, with the support of the prayers of our prayer team, we are aiming to be a very calming presence.”
He recalled a 12-year old boy the team had recently met: “It was 10.30pm and he was just standing there. We got him to open up with sweets and talk about football. And we found out he had run away from a care home, and we were able to get him back.”
John noted that the team's work was appreciated by nightclub door staff, the police and other agencies the team works with such as the SOS bus and Safe Haven City Response Centre. He noted that the number of patrols NSP were able to undertake this year had decreased slightly due to the number of volunteers. Their hope would be to increase patrols to 52 per year if the numbers allowed. "We would love more volunteers," he said.
This includes recruiting to the team of people who pray every Friday and Saturday night for Norfolk’s streets. Clive Drake, NSP’s Prayer Coordinator, said: “Prayer is a vital part of our work.” During each patrol a team of two people, based at St Peter Mancroft's Chantry Hall, pray for the team through the night. The patrol team and prayer team are in constant communication via texts and calls every 15 minutes.
Volunteers are also equipped and encouraged through a monthly series of training mornings organized by Training Coordinator Linda James. “These meetings aim to help us continue our work as effectively as possible,” Linda said. Over the last year the team has had input from Safe Haven City Response, PC Richard Spinks from Norfolk’s Licensing Regulation Team and held a retreat together.
Treasurer Penny Jones gave a summary of accounts which were deemed healthy. NSP Trustee David Patey said: “We have a nice cushion so if we get more volunteers, we’ve got scope to increase activity. We’ve got money to put volunteers to work. We don’t need fundraising, we need friend raising.”
If you would like to join the Norfolk Street Partnership Penny Jones would welcome your email at firstname.lastname@example.org.