By Nick Morrison
I’ve done a fair wee amount of night shifts on my time, both in Military and Civie roles but none of them started at 23.45 Hrs. This one did, it’s what time the Street Pastors meet up before starting their patrol.
The Street Pastors, an organisation of 5 Faiths started in 2012. And since then they have certainly well earned the trust of Orkneys youngsters as I witnessed many times. So on a cool (8 C) night at midnight 4 pastors and your reporter hit Kirkwall’s streets.
They start up into the town center doing a sweep of Tankerness Gardens and car parks on the way greeting and talking to anyone on the streets paying special attention to anyone on their own. So down Main St and down to the harbour.
There were a lot of revelers in the road between Skippers Bar and The Torvhaug. The Pastors joined in with some of the revelry, selfies and the like. Traffic is virtually non extant at this time, such as there was were mainly professionals like Taxi drivers and the Police.
The Police were in strength (for Orkney!) just “maintaining a presence” which was all that was in fact needed whilst I was there. The Pastors then assisted with a problem, a couple had “had words” and the boy had stormed off. His companions were quite concerned for his welfare. They tracked him down with Police assistance. Then back to base for a break and a cuppa.
After the break its back to Fusion as its nearly chucking out time. You can get up to 600 youngsters some at least “have drink taken”. The Pastors reckon to help around 20 a night. Help can range from supplying flip flops to girls who at that time have had quite enough of high heels to arranging a taxi to get them home.I saw girls coming up to a great bear of a man and ask for and get given flip flops. As i said earned trust .Well built young men who would not look out of place on a rugby pitch running across the street for a lollipop. lollipops were used initially as a wonderfully effective diffuser for when a fight looks like kicking off.
The pastors carry a pack containing flip flops ,light rain coats ,space blankets, first aid kit and a dust pan and brush. This latter is for sweeping up broken glass to save the feet of those going barefoot. I saw it used around 6 times. Bottles are also removed, A. they are a potential weapon and B, could just add to the broken glass. They picked up a good dozen. The shift ends at around 03.30.
A dog watch by Naval standards but certainly action packed.
What a very, very good thing to do. I’m not around town at those kind of times, so I was unaware of this – what a good, kind, generous way to spend your time.
A big thanks to you, Nick, for a positive account of what the Street Pastors do. I was in the team for 5 years before moving on to other forms of serving. So many of the young folks are appreciative as the SPs go round.
One minor correction: The Street Pastors are all Christians and come from 5 (or more) of Orkney’s churches.
From a former UK Police Officer I just wanted to say thank you, those nights can turn into some of the worst nights of those clubbers lives and you help both them and us (police) more than you know! Good work out there!