As winter approaches more young people will be forced to sleep rough in dangerous situations. The cost of living crisis is adding extra pressure this winter, those on low incomes are being hit the hardest and more households are expected to be pushed into homelessness as a result. No young person should have to sleep rough or have to spend the night in an unsafe place. This is why we run Nightstop.
Nightstop UK is our emergency, same-night accommodation network, which helps get people off the streets and into safe accommodation that very same night. Volunteer hosts provide a safe and warm place to stay for people in crisis. It’s a vital intervention for a young person which supports them when they’re on the brink of falling into long-term homelessness.
Senior Prevention Coordinator, Martin Picken outlines the need to respond urgently:
“Acting quickly, getting them off the streets, and making them safe and secure, supports them to be able to move on quickly in a positive way.”
Young people are referred to Nightstop; when referrals come in a risk assessment is carried out to match the young person with a volunteer host. Volunteer hosts go through background checks and training and their home is checked to ensure it is a safe environment.
Martin added: “Having one person you can trust, who’s there for you, being non-judgmental can make a massive difference. That’s something that Nightstop does provide young people with.”
There are many different models that provide temporary accommodation But Nightstop is more than just a bed for the night.
As Sharon Jackson, Senior Nightstop Coordinator said:
“It’s about being in a home environment and sometimes that’s just exactly what people need – a bit of breathing space away from a potentially chaotic environment.”
Young people can get a good night’s sleep, a nutritious meal, a chance to shower and wash their clothes, and a listening ear from their hosts.
As well as the immediate benefits of taking a vulnerable young person out of a dangerous and harmful environment and into a warm, safe and secure home, there are many longer-term benefits. Often feelings of anxiety and depression improves and there are many social and emotional benefits.
Jo stayed with Nightstop hosts after she was forced to sleep rough after experiencing emotional and physical abuse: “I was really nervous about staying with Nightstop for the first time, wondering what the hosts would be like. They were so nice. I couldn’t believe how nice they were. I texted my friend saying I didn’t think people could be this nice. I got there, we had dinner at 6pm, together. It was really nice. I slept really well the first night, it was dead comfortable. After four weeks with Nightstop, I moved into a hostel. My plan is to get a job, and find somewhere to live.”
Young people are given a way to escape their circumstances, are given more control of their lives, and are able to look towards a future. Courtney stayed with Nightstop in 2021. She said: “I felt like I was helpless, there was no-one there for me. I do not think I’d be here if it wasn’t for Nightstop.”
Martin added: “I don’t say this lightly. Coming to Nightstop can be a life-saver. Because we are here, we listen and we give them an opportunity, we’re not here to judge them.”
Sharon has encouraged more people in communities across the UK to sign up: “Sometimes people worry about where they live and if they live rurally or they might live in an area where there’s not much demand for Nightstop services. To those people, I would say: every household can be useful in their own way and we can work out what works best for them and how best they could be utilised by Nightstop.”
With an increased demand this winter Nightstop is more vital than ever to help young people stay off the streets. But it wouldn’t exist without our volunteers.
Watch the video below about our volunteer hosts who are providing a safe space for vulnerable young people.