Archive - Thursday, 16 July 2009
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Supergran keeps the streets of Sutton safe
A group of volunteers who wander the streets of Sutton on weekends to offer a helping hand to partygoers and pub punters has the help of a super gran.
While most pensioners would be home, tucked in under the covers, Pat Fletcher, 81, from Cheam, patrols the town centre with street pastors, led by Reverend Mark Tomlinson, offering advice, lollipops, flip flops or even a shoulder to cry on.
Mrs Fletcher said: “Mark came to my church to talk about the street pastors and asked me to come out and observe.
“I did and I loved it. I started on it last September and I’m really enjoying it.”
Mrs Fletcher goes out with the group on Fridays and Saturdays, once or twice a month. On Saturday, the pastors braved the wet weather to make sure drunk people found their way home, girls in towering heels had flip flops to walk home in and anyone in trouble had the help they needed.
While the group was out on patrol, it was not uncommon for pub punters to approach Mrs Fletcher and ask if she should not be home having a hot cocoa, instead of roaming the town centre streets.
She also received hugs and kisses from strangers amazed by her display of energy.
Mrs Fletcher said: “I like knowing that I can help and I love to go around talking to young people.
“Sometimes they just need some attention, someone to talk to or to walk them back to their friends.”
Widower Mrs Fletcher, who has four children and 12 grandchildren, said she decided to volunteer for the Christian group after the project she used to work on with young people in Cheam was closed down.
When out on the weekend, the group always says a prayer before going out in pairs for shifts that can last up to five hours.
Rev Tomlinson said: “We are street pastors and not street preachers. We want to provide practical support to all who need it, from taking people to taxis, social services, other agencies, to assisting those who are drunk, lost, lonely and vulnerable.
“We want to make sure Sutton is a safe place at night and we work in conjunction with shop owners and the police for that.”
And as the night died out, those who received any kind of help thanked their anonymous helpers effusively before staggering home along the wet town centre streets.