As a parent, there is always something to worry about. Even when (especially when) our offspring reach the age of 18, we still worry. Like their desire to go ‘clubbing’ with their friends, to celebrate birthdays, or the end of exams, or just because it’s ‘what everyone does’.
The worries range from: will they drink too much; will they be enticed (or duped) into trying recreational drugs; will they lose their phone and not have contact; will they get separated from their friends; will they get home safely; how will they walk in those great high heels – and that’s just the boys! As parents, we do tend to dwell on worst-case scenarios.
Well, over a delicious Women’s breakfast at the end of November, many of those fears were laid to rest, when we listened to Sue Shaw of Street Pastors Kingston. This is a national Christian charity scheme where trained and uniformed volunteer ‘Street Pastors’ go out into major city centres from 10pm until 4am, armed with blankets, water, lollipops, flip-flops and love. They patrol outside the clubs to ‘scoop up’ any young people in difficulty, helping them however they need, giving them practical and emotional support, and making sure they can get home safely. They even give out flip-flops to those who have given up with the high heels, to stop them walking barefoot through the streets.
When they’re not busy with the clubs turning out, they’re busy giving out socks, gloves, hats, sleeping bags, food and love to the homeless sleeping on the streets. They work alongside the police and regularly diffuse heated situations, before they escalate into something more threatening – the lollipops appear to work wonders here. Prayer also works wonders – not everyone is physically up to the work on the streets, but everyone is able to pray, so whenever there are teams on the streets, there are at least 2 people back at base, praying for their safety.
This is a formidable force – formidable in the impressive sense – they have a truly positive impact on the safety of our city centres, and most importantly the safety of our young people. We thank them deeply for their work, their courage, their love for God’s people and their love for our young people.