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Why I volunteer: Using the ‘secret weapon’ of prayer to help people on Scotland’s streets

In the latest in the series, Street Pastor Jean Urquhart explains what drives her to help the the homeless and passers by on Paisley's streets.

Having been a Street Pastor in Paisley for three years, I find the work both rewarding and enjoyable. How did I get involved?

Over the years I had heard about Street Pastors and had a vague notion of the nature of their work.

There was a seed of interest planted in my mind and I spoke to a friend about it and she had a contact phone number for me.

I made the call and from that came an interview and a chance to go out as an observer with a team one Friday night, which confirmed for me that it was something I could and should do.



Excellent training sessions followed, references were provided, Protection of Vulnerable Groups forms completed, and I was ready to go.

The training is beneficial in building confidence and knowledge as well as the enjoyment of interacting with other trainee Street Pastors.

I learned a lot and thank those trainers for sharing their expertise.

I felt valued and affirmed throughout the sessions and better equipped to carry out the Lord’s work in situations that arise late at night on the streets of Paisley.



The secret weapon we have is prayer.

We spend time praying together before we go out and we are supported by prayer pastors while we work.

We can contact them to pray for an individual or anything worrying we come across.

We are also in contact with CCTV operators so that anything that is of concern can be logged and they will keep an eye out or we can contact the Police.




Out on the street we work in teams of three or four. When out with different teams it is useful to see their styles of approach in a variety of situations.

No two nights are the same and we never know what God has in store for us. We have a very good working relationship with the police, who see us as a helpful presence on the street.

The Street Pastors are known for giving out flip flops, particularly to women on a night out who might be struggling in their high heels, but we also give out blankets to homeless people, offer phone charging, call taxis for inebriated people and listen to people’s worries and concerns.

I have had some quite amazing philosophical conversations outside nightclubs late at night and we do get requests to pray with people. There are funny moments too, like getting a hug from Batman one Halloween.



As Street Pastors we are there to listen, help and care in whatever way we can. We are not there to proselytise but when asked we are happy to talk about Christian Faith.

When we go out into the dark, we take the light of Christ with us, thanking the Father for the gift of His Son that we may be saved.

With the strength and support of His Spirit we ask for guidance to do and say the right thing on the street.

The Holy Spirit is always working to reveal the goodness, kindness and mercy of God and challenges us to be lateral and creative in the way we think. God is endlessly merciful to us.



As Pope Francis said, ‘The mercy of God is the beating heart of the Gospel,’ so we recognise His mercy to us and extend that mercy to others by taking the Gospel message into the street.

I would recommend this work to anyone. I began in my seventies and there is no upper age limit. If God wants you to do something then He makes it possible!

Do you know someone who could contribute to our ‘Why I Volunteer’ series? Email info@sconews.co.uk if you or someone you know would like to contribute.

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