Norfolk street pastors 'stars of the night'
2010: Norfolk's Street Pastors were delighted to welcome Charles Barratt, High Sheriff of Norfolk, as an observer on the streets with them in June. Charles reflects on his experiences in the latest edition of the Street Pastors newsletter.
"Returning home at 3.00am, I creep into my warm soft bed and reflect on an extraordinary evening.
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 10.00pm to quietly roam the streets of Norwich. 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.
Visiting the regular people of the night, the Salvation Army soup kitchen, the Waterfront, we spoke to hot dog and ice-cream sellers, 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 to begin with I ‘passed by on the other side’. 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 2 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 you for an evening - I now know who ‘The Good Samaritan’ really was."
For more details about Norfolk's street pastors, including dates for the next training course, click here to download the latest newsletter.