• Nikki Latham

Lollipops With Love, Support And Compassion…

On Saturday night, our Nikki got the opportunity to join the team of Weymouth Street Pastors and follow them for one night across the town to see their work.
Nikki recorded a video of before her departure and on her return. It was an evening of waiting for support to arrive from the emergency services, who are very stretched, but are very quick to call on the Street Pastors for their support.
For obvious reasons, we can’t go into names and places, but there were 3 main call-outs to the team, with an additional one coming in before they had set out from their base. The first official one developed as it turns out from that first call, a vulnerable and troubled young lady, who built such a rapport with the two lady Street Pastors, that when things became difficult, it was good to see she trusted them. A decision to deviate from their usual first walk meant they were on scene within a few minutes. They did end up spending several hours with the young lady, before leaving her in the capable hands of the emergency services.
Until last week, the Street Pastors had a safe space to bring these vulnerable people to, but for this month it is not an option, even with verbal support from respected local figures (who only lasted a couple of hours on the streets!). This girl could have been taken into the warm much earlier on, if this space had been available. Huge thank you to Wetherspoons for stepping in at our Nikki’s request for a cup of coffee to help warm her up.
With a cuppa on the mind for the team, the walk back to base, which was literally metres away, brought a call which was an older lady who was unwell, the ambulance had been called and being the centre of town brought many onlookers. The street pastors were called to assist again before the emergency services arrived. This lady was able to receive some basic medical care and reassurance from the ladies again, while waiting for the ambulance team to take over.
Back to base, where we chatted and had a much needed cuppa and Nikki found out that they were a man down from their normal group, due to sickness and had lost many of the team after the pandemic, due to many having been retired people, and deciding that was a good time to stop. It is a lot of walking each night and jumping into action as these ladies did moving patients under ambulance control guidance and performing simple checks on the individuals which would assist those coming to support them from the emergency services. The two ladies are some of their new recruits and had completed their training recently, but had been on the streets for some time. It was good to allow them to debrief and talk about their call-outs.
They are usually on the streets on a Saturday night only at the moment from 10pm til approx 4am. The final “planned” walk took them back to the seafront for a quick check of the pubs and clubs still open and then the beach itself. They check over the railings to make sure no one has fallen over onto the beach and the plan was to make their way back to base. It wasn’t to be, with the police so busy, a vulnerable woman had called for help and the street pastors were clearly going to get there before the police, however on searching around the location given, no one was found and then their instincts moved them towards some men and she was being supported by these strangers. The pastors went to offer some much needed flip flops to this distressed girl and with her friend, and taxi already on its way, they stayed with them and got them on their way home.
This brought the end to the night, making their way back to base, but in fact all night people literally screamed lollipops at them… the street pastors carry a wide selection of items including water, medical kit and those important flip flops… don’t ask about the dark chocolate Kit Kats and not all lollipops are red!
Although the team are recommended by their church to become Street Pastors, they never discuss religious matters, and they are there for the people of Weymouth when they are having a not so great night, they are trained so well that if you get them come to aid you know you are in safe hands.
They can be called while on duty by any door staff, to assist, with radio contact and they can hear the pubwatch broadcasts to hear if they may be needed at a location. But Nikki felt they were being guided to where they needed to be, as each call, they were only a short distance away each time to assist.
As with all these things, they do need financial support to help these volunteers continue to hand out lollipops and love, so please get in contact with them, If you can help. Email: weymouth@streetpastors.org.uk or find them on Facebook.
The team made our Nikki feel so welcome. Nikki said: “I thought I was caring and compassionate, until I saw this team in action. The care they gave to strangers and arriving at locations, they dived into action. As an observer, I occasionally felt a little helpless and tried to keep out of the way, but I won’t see an empty glass bottle in the same way too. I will be picking them up and popping them in the bin.”
Chesil Radio and Nikki would like to thank the team for allowing us to accompany the team on Saturday and wish them all the best for the coming season.
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