WOW, what a night!!
Friday night was certainly what you would call exciting! Finally hitting the streets with a little nervousness, excitement, the feeling of the unknown, but sensing God was with us in a very real way!! One of our Prayer Pastors Michael Charles from St. Catherine of Siena Church, wife had a vision for us that we would be going out behind the Sword – the word of truth. We were reminded of the command God gave Joshua to be Bold and Courageous because the Lord your God is with you!
Before we hit the streets we have a briefing from PC Simon Wheeler, Simon bought his whole team with him 8 other PC and PCSO’s all had tea and biscuits at St Laurence’s which was a real encouragement – it wasn’t a them and us mentality which is amazing and the unity and partnership that is growing between us and the police is truly great!
After all the briefings, dishing out the uniforms, the kit and drinking hot chocolate and eating cake, knowing we had a lot of prayer support, we headed out into the night!!
We had a vague route idea of where we were going to go – up Friar st, along station rd, and back round to St L’s then back up Friar Street, West St, St Mary’s Butts, Gun St, along to the Oracle, and back and round to Friar St. This was the kind of route we took-ish!!
There were 7 of us (plus one observer from Our Lady of Peace) we had 3 pairs and I was walking between the pairs. The first part was intentionally greeting the door staff and saying hi to those we passed. All through the night the door staff were really very open and welcoming towards us, talking and chatting very easily. The manager of De Ja Vu actually ran out of the bar and hailed us down to thank us and chat to us (he’s the chair of the Pubwatch group, Bill!). This is another big thing to thank God for – other places inc. Basingstoke have found this very hard and only now a year on they have soften their attitude towards them! This is a great opportunity for us to build good relationships with them!
Our first incident was tending to a girl who had injured her ankle and ensuring she was with good friends and was able to get home ok, chatting to quite a few people through out the night who couldn’t get into the clubs due to being drunk and not believing they were, even those who couldn’t string a sentence together thought they were sober! Trying to help them locate their friends and offering our mobile to do so. Dealing with the aftermath of a punch up outside purple turtle – didn’t get involved but called Echo Tango (CCTV), they were already onto it, hung back and located a group who were a bit traumatized – helped them find a taxi home.
We helped a few lone women through out the evening – ensuring they were ok, with friends or get a taxi, helped one by talking to her to ensure safety from guys pestering her along the Oracle.
The funny incident of the evening was giving my first lollipop away – it was to a guy whose birthday it was, his 21st, he was quite drunk with a friend who was relatively sober, we were outside purple turtle, he dropped his lolly – learnt forward to get it completely lost balance and co-ordination and hit his face on the pavement leaving him with a cut eye and nose – this gave the doorman much amusement and may tease and banter with us on this incident for a while “it was all alright before the street pastors came along!” You’ve been warned!!
The general reception was great, the police not just the town centre team but from the wider team, people were welcoming of us on the whole, a few chats with those interested or sober enough to read our caps and coats led to people thanking us but also wondering why on earth we were out there!