Plymouth Street Pastors
The city streets have long since shaken off their last shoppers. By 10pm on Saturday night, the drinkers and clubbers are charging in.
Voices lose their clarity, becoming blurred and slurred.
Upstairs, in a little room above the Shekinah Mission, 11 friends are getting ready to go out. They're loading up rucksacks full of first aid kits, flip-flops, and space blankets.
You can tell this is no ordinary night on the tiles. These are Plymouth's street pastors – and every single item in their collection has its place in combating the after-effects of a tidal-wave of Stella or sambuca.
The flip-flops, for instance, are offered to women who have removed their stilettos and are trying to walk, barefoot, through shards of glass on the street.
But more than that is their presence on the streets, within minutes they're being approached by servicemen recently returned from Afghanistan, off-duty PCSO's wanting to know more about their role...it's simple, for many alcohol is a coping mechanism for many of the harsh realities of modern day life and Saturday night is time to let go of those inhibitions and pour your heart out to a complete stranger who offer help and support.
In the four hours I shadowed team C1 they had dealt with; depression, domestic abuse, eating disorders, redundancy and many more topics to afflict party-goers.
Between may 2008 and March 2010 - The 2-years Street pastors have been on patrol:
- 14.3% drop in anti-social behaviour
- 11.4% drop in overall crime
- 8.2% drop in violent crime
- 27% drop in criminal damage
To see the other articles in this series:
- On the trail of drink drivers
- Bank Holiday night shift with Plymouth ambulance crew
- In their twenties and suffering from terminal Liver disease