While most people in Lincoln enjoyed an extra day off this weekend, the Lincoln Street Pastors, a group of volunteers, did an extra shift this bank holiday Sunday.
Trained in first aid, alcohol awareness, police and CCTV liaison, the pastors aim to help Lincolnites, whether they need help getting home or just someone to talk to.
The team patrol the city center armed with flip-flops for girls whose painful shoes have left them bare footed, water for people who have drunk too much, and tissues for those whose night hasn’t gone as planned.
The Lincolnite joined the Street Pastors on Sunday night to investigate what influence their work has on the city’s night life.
Going on patrol
After an hour of preparation, consisting of prayer and planning, the pastors got their first call before they even left their base at Lincoln BIG offices on Saltergate.
Street Pastors Audrey Beverley (L) and David Fleshbourne (R) on patrol in Lincoln.
A woman had lost her friends, handbag, house keys and mobile phone and was stuck in the Direct Cabs offices on Silver Street, with no way to get home.
Upon arrival, the 33-year-old Lincoln woman seemed frustrated with her situation and confused about the Street Pastors’ intentions, thinking she was in trouble.
After realising the Street Pastors were there to help, she apologised for being drunk, and her tune soon changed.
Audrey Beverley (61), a tutor at the University of Salford and a Street Pastor for over three years, and David Fleshbourne (30), a Computer Engineer at Currys, consoled the girl and helped her clear her head.
With no other options, the woman asked if she could call her mother and Beverley helped arrange the mother to come and collect her daughter. The pastors waited for the mother to come from Skellingthorpe and helped explain the situation.
With one situation resolved even before midnight, both the staff at Discount Cabs and the 33-year-old woman clearly appreciated having the Street Pastors on call.
With designated routes, circling Lincoln’s nightlife hot spots, door staff, street wardens and police alike were pleased with the Street Pastors’s work.
Fleshbourne explained how the volunteers were generally well received.
He said: “We have built up a good rapport with staff as they appreciate how we can help them to do their job.”
Working form 10pm until as late as 3 or 4am, Street Pastors aim not to tread on the toes of other authorities, but simply to help people who have become vulnerable as a result of their evening’s exploits.
Street Pastor Audrey Beverley helps clear bottles and glasses in the street that can be used as weapons.
Beverley explained how simple things, such as picking up bottles in the street that can be used as weapons, can make a difference.
She said: “Sometimes we collect up to 60 or 70 bottles in a night, often having little competitions to see who can pick up the most.”
More complex situations such as when people have been left alone at the end of the night are also helped by the pastors.
Beverley said: “It is little situations such as when there is a fight, the police deal with it well but when someone is arrested, there is often a partner who is left alone.
“The police are too busy to deal with this so we help by making sure they can make it home or find the rest of their group safely.”
John Speirs (24) a Sales Assistant in Louth, explained how being a Street Pastor helps him show his Christian side by being involved in his community.
Speirs said: “It is a great way for Christianity to cross over into normal society. Ever since the time of my A-levels I have noticed the need of a helping hand for some people, although most manage to be sensible.”