In the beginning, that is 1994, Mrs Pat Tilley met Neal, a rough sleeper in Tunbridge Wells. In conversation with Neal she realised that there must be several men sleeping rough in the town. With advice and support from David Gilpin, founder of The Bridge Trust, and with encouragement and funds from several churches, Pat Tilley founded what became The Bridge Trust Street Teams. In January 1995 Pat led three teams into the Crescent Road car park for three nights a week with 20 volunteers. Soup and sandwiches were served from the boots of cars. It soon became apparent that this was not sufficient. We are now more sufficient serving hot food from tables with chairs for customers to sit on. Sleeping bags, blankets and warm clothes are provided. As time passed two more teams have formed giving cover for five nights. In the early days we would have up to 15 customers a night. In 2013 this number has risen to 25 on average, some nights over 30. In 2009 The Street Teams separated from The Bridge Trust and reformed as the Tunbridge Wells Churches’ Street Teams voluntary association with its own management committee and constitution. Local churches and individual donors have always supported us and some kind people have made regular donations since our beginning. Our customers have never been only those who are homeless, others come to us – the lonely, those who are short of money, those who, for whatever reason, need a hot meal or just to meet the volunteers and have a chat, and the distressed. Over the years some 27 customers have died, the youngest in her early twenties. Some have died without family contact and have gone to be remembered by a few and soon forgotten. It is the donors and volunteers who make everything work. Three volunteers have served since 1995; others have served for over a decade. They are prepared to work on even the coldest evening, every week without thought of reward.
"Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, How can I help?" Romans 15, 1-2 (The Message)
If you would like to donate in any way, we would be pleased to let you know what our current needs are. Items such as warm, clean clothing, sleeping bags, toiletries, dry food, tins of soup goods etc are generally in demand.
Do feel free to email us at Twstreetteams@yahoo.co.uk