Havering’s hidden heroes

Published: Wednesday, 13 September 2017

On Friday night, the Council along with the Metropolitan Police were out on the busy streets of Romford town centre meeting the hidden heroes who sacrifice their time to help keep the borough’s nightlife safe.

Havering has a vibrant nightlife, with a mixture of 15 bars, pubs and clubs in Romford alone which attracts thousands of revellers every Friday and Saturday night. But who ensures that it’s a safe environment and how?

Throughout the night, Havering Council witnessed the work of its partnering projects such as the Romford Street Pastors – who voluntarily give up their evenings to care and help clubbers feel safe and this year marks their 10th year anniversary.

The Street Pastors, including East London’s oldest Street Pastor Donald Graham, 83 were out till 2am on Friday disposing of glass bottles left on the streets by club and bar goers, patrolling through back roads, speaking to people who were alone on the streets and handing out hugs – which were very popular, all ensuring the town is kept safe.

But, it doesn’t stop there, the Street Pastors also handout lollipops to help sober people up for their journeys home and flip flops to help prevent injuries to those who remove their heels on their way home.

Donald Graham, Street Pastor, said: “It’s a wonderful privilege to meet people where they are and offer them help and reach out as best as we can. People are so appreciative of what we do as we don’t come across as threatening.

“Our presence alone stops issues such as fights which I have witnessed in places like Hornchurch.”

“Every night is different and being there to help people is amazing. You never know who you’re going to meet and it’s a privilege to bring church out to the streets. People seem to trust us to and always ask us who we are, what we do and if we get paid” – Lynn Hunt, Romford Street Pastor.

The Street Triage team were also in action on the night. The team offer medical help and as they are stationed in the clubs or town centre, they are able to respond quicker also taking the pressure off the ambulance service.

The Metropolitan Police, who accompanied the team for the night, were also confiscating beer bottles as they enforced the drinking ban which is another measure the Council uses to help keep the borough’s night time economy safe. However, this ban is due to end in October but the Council has proposed a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to replace this.

Councillor Osman Dervish, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Keeping our residents safe is a priority and it’s essential that we work with the Police to do so. We have a vibrant night-time economy but need to ensure it is also as safe as possible. People who work as Street Pastors and as part of the Street Triage team, do such an amazing job and I commend all that they do. Thank you all for helping to keep our night-time economy safe.”

Chris Gammage, Managing Director at Crusader Medical who run the Street Triage, said: "Our team are out every Friday and Saturday night between 10pm and 4am helping with any medical emergency and other welfare related issues. Since 2016 we have seen to over 500 individuals. Prior to the night time economy starting back in 2013, all of these would more than likely have been seen by an ambulance crew."

The Council also spoke to local revellers and managers of high street clubs who said they feel like the projects help to keep the area safe and tackle anti-social behaviour.