Since 2007, Lincoln Street Pastors patrol the city centre to assist those in need of a helping hand. The Lincolnite spent a night with them to witness their work.
The Street Pastors are a church-based organisation operating across the UK, helping the homeless and assisting those who may have drunk too much.
The Lincoln sector was set up in October 2007 and has 36 pastors. They go out on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 10pm until the early hours of the morning.
Last year alone, the volunteers did 2,000 hours of service.
In terms of numbers, they picked up 800 bottles from the streets, handed out over 400 flip-flops to people in need of foot wear and nearly 100 space blankets.
The Lincoln Street Pastors are located on the outskirts of the city centre, in the Lincoln Business Growth Centre.
In the headquarters, they’re stocked up with items they need, from bottles of water to sober people up, to various other hand-outs to help people on the streets.
The group already has 36 volunteers who give up their time once a week and this number is set to go up to 42 in a fortnight.
A typical night
Before they head out for the night, they say a prayer for everybody — from bar staff to the homeless. They split into two teams of three to patrol the streets.
Head Street Pastor for the night Bob Stoner said: “We work as a layered team with the police and the street wardens; we have the most time to help people one-on-one for hours if need be.”
Meanwhile, two stay back to act as Pray Pastors, praying through the night for those in need after getting phone calls from the teams out in the streets during the night.
The teams run ‘laps’, which involve the groups patrolling areas to find those in most need, usually around the busiest clubs and passageways where people may need help.
The pastors remark that tonight has been quiet, but reveal that the credit crunch has taken effect on their work.
Street Pastor Marvin Liddle said: “Friday nights tend to be quiet, but before the recession both Saturdays and Fridays were quite busy.”
As they talk about their methods it seems to be the small things which make a huge difference.
“Giving a lollipop out in a fight sometimes makes all the difference and calms it down,” said Stoner as he recalls past experiences.
However the kindness doesn’t just happen on Friday and Saturday nights. Once, Stoner took the time to visit a homeless man he’d helped in hospital on his day off.
“He was quite surprised when I turned up just see if he was ok.
“It’s quite amazing how things change after we call back and we can’t help wondering if it’s coincidence or not.”