There is nothing quite like a good evening out, that being said the night-time economy can also create a number of unwanted pressures, anti-social behaviour and reveals the stark need for greater safety for women. Some people, unfortunately can’t control themselves after a couple of drinks and they lose there friends or find themselves lost in an unfamiliar area, while others can end up abusing the staff who have to toil through the night time shift.
Thats where Ealing Street Pastors come in. The group is made up of individuals from churches across the borough, who care deeply about their community and seek to be a calming influence on some of the unwanted elements of late night frivolities. By making alternating Friday night patrols around the town centres of Ealing and Southall they can find and help those who might need their care.
On a recent Friday night out the team were joined by Atul Pathak, the Managing Director of Appt Corp which operates the Ealing Broadway McDonald’s as well as a number of other McDonald’s across north and west London. The Street Pastor team met at about 10.30pm. Sophie was team leader with Angela, Kat and David street pastoring. Gloria was also there as an observer alongside Atul. The team met for a cup of tea and Sophie got in touch with the local police to ask whether there were any specific concerns they should be aware of, this was followed by a quick team briefing to ensure everyone was aware of the possible risks and the need to stay together. Just after 11 they started their patrol across Ealing Green.
The patrol then crossed through to New Broadway. Outside McDonalds they stopped to chat to a couple of men; one had just lost his job and was a little down about his prospects about getting another one, but after a reassuring chat, he felt a little more optimistic about the future. The team continued along The Broadway towards the tube and train stations giving out some foil blankets and water to those sleeping out on the street. After that they stopped by The Red Rooms where they chatted to the security team; it was looking like a quiet night. Having crossed over Haven Green talking – and listening – to some people having a few drinks, some of the team went into the late shops along the Broadway and got chatting to one of the shopkeepers there and heard about his all too common worries about what it means to be open late at night. Having popped back to Ealing Broadway station the street pastors were able to escort a disoriented lady towards the Central line to make sure she got home safe. Outside the station, the team even rustled up a bus ticket to a man who was thinking that he was otherwise going to have to sleep rough. Walking back down the Mall, more foil blankets and bottled water were given out to several people who were trying to keep warm as they slept rough. They also had a chat with one woman who was feeling very down, but her spirits were roused when she was given the contact numbers of some organisations who would be willing to help her.
The patrol then had a welcome break at McDonalds, courtesy of Atul, whose restaurant is a keen supporter of the Street Pastors by regularly giving them refreshments during their patrols. As the streets were quiet everyone returned to base at about 2.15am with a debriefing and some prayers before heading home about 2.30am – and that was an early night!!