Flip-flops, peppermints and lollipops. Actively retired people are using them all to demonstrate God’s love.

At an hour when older people are likely to be safely tucked up in bed, a select number are roaming the streets, armed with flip-flops, peppermints, lollipops and love.

These Good Samaritans are ready, as clubs and pubs spill customers onto the streets of some 300 town and city centres on Friday and Saturday nights. They are Street Pastors and Street Angels – two similar initiatives fulfilling the motto ‘Caring, Listening, Helping’. Though teams are all-age, many volunteers are of retirement age.

This includes Sian Evans who retired looking for more than a weekly stint in the community village shop. Firmly believing ‘God wants us to enjoy what we do’ and eager to show his love practically beyond the church walls, she became a regular Street Angel. Now watching out for young adults in the early hours who may have painted the town of Carmarthen a bit redder than was wise!

Then there’s Andrew Miller, previously a hospital doctor. His workplace departure coincided with an increasing realisation that’ the Kingdom of God is very much about the present, not just the future’. So training as a Street Pastor seemed a great way of being salt and light in his city of Oxford.

Sian, Andrew and their teams go out well prepared. Space blankets for the shivering. Flip flops for previously high-heeled girls now barefoot and at risk from broken glass. Lollipops, remarkably effective in diffusing confrontations.

Plus peppermints. Because standard practice when someone throws up, Andrew explains, is to offer water to swill around and then a peppermint to suck.

They also help by pointing out the nearest cash point; spending time with distressed people; sometimes calling 999 for collapsed/drunk individuals – and recharging mobiles.

Typically, things hot up after midnight. Sian says, ‘My heart goes out to these people.’  She’s often dealt with minor injuries. ‘Once I had to clean a very drunk lady’s face. She’d been hit with a glass and was hurling abuse at passers-by.’

They never finish before 2.30am, often not until 4. But Sian points out, ‘when you’re retired you can lie in as long as you want.’ Each shift covers some ground. Two Oxford volunteers have apps that once recorded walking over seven miles, all at conversation-friendly ambling speed.

And the God-dimension in all this? Sian quotes the verse, ‘For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing’. She says, ‘It’s like the old advert. The savoury smell drifts by and people said ‘Ahh, Bisto’. I think we can be a bit like that.’

Interestingly, Andrew remembers a team member’s similar comment, ‘Tonight we may not have shared Christ’s words, but we spread His aroma’.

For Andrew it’s being like the Good Samaritan who helped someone totally different to himself without telling him what to believe.’ Street Pastors and Angels aren’t there to preach. ‘But we’re often asked who we are, what motivates us’, he says. ‘And how come we’re not paid?’

Is this recommended for others in active retirement? ‘Yes’, assures Sian, ‘It’s for anyone willing to try something a bit different that’s fun and rewarding. You can choose when to serve and being older is useful because when we’re bossy they don’t take offence’

With a smile she adds, ‘Where else are you going to learn how to Floss at 3 o’clock in the morning?’

As a measure of the difference such involvement makes, it’s estimated Street Pastors and Street Angels will save the NHS £13 million during the festive period by diverting drunks from A&E. And Wrexham police saw violent crime and anti-social behaviour halved since the volunteers have patrolled the town centre.

Check out Street Pastors and Street Angels. It could be for you.

Are you a Street Pastor or Street Angels with a story to share? Please do so here or on our AfterWorkNet Facebook group. Thank you.

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Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.


  1. Street Pastors do a great job – Photo shows Response Pastors who also deploy into communities in times of disaster or crisis sharing hope and reassurance to all

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife