Youth homelessness charity Depaul UK is celebrating National Volunteers’ Week by shining the spotlight on the vital work of Nightstop Volunteers who open their homes to young homeless people facing a night on the streets or sleeping in an unsafe place. Last year 400 people opened their homes to young people who have nowhere to stay and help change their lives.
Communities and charities run Nightstop services in more than 30 locations around the UK, led and supported by Depaul UK. In 2021, volunteers provided more than 6,000 safe nights of accommodation to people across the Nightstop network. The Nightstop network is made possible thanks to the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Claire, 63, has been volunteering with Nightstop since she retired last year. Claire has four grown up children and lives alone in the outskirts of Newcastle. Claire said:
“Over the years I’ve enjoyed having lots of my children’s friends come over. It was a full house a lot of the time, with film and pizza nights, kid’s parties and more sleepovers than I can count.
“The young people from Nightstop were just the same as my children or any of their friends, but are just in a really vulnerable situation, and need a bit of help.
“I’ve shared my home with around 15 young people so far. One of my favourite memories was finding a note left for me by a young girl. She wrote about how much being able to stay the night meant to her and that she’ll remember me for the rest of her life. I could tell she’d spent ages writing it in beautiful handwriting and that made it extra special.”
After becoming homeless as a teenager, Jordan, 20 is looking forward to University and excited about the future. Jordan previously used Nightstop as an alternative to sleeping rough when he could no longer live with his Dad. He said:
“I became homeless because me and my dad just didn’t have the best relationship, constantly fighting and arguing and it just got to the point where it wasn’t doing anything for my mental health. I was extremely nervous because it was going to a stranger’s house, so you don’t know what to expect. They were all really friendly.
“Nightstop has been such a massive help for me, and my mental health. Currently going to be going back to college for a science course and then hopefully going to university from there. If you would have asked me where I would have been a few years ago, I never thought I’d be going to university.”
Nicola Harwood, Director of Prevention and Programmes at Depaul UK said:
“While the young people that access Nightstop are the passion that drives our work, our volunteers are the life-blood which keeps our vital service running. Our volunteers may come from all backgrounds but they have one thing in common – they want to make sure no young person sleeps in an unsafe place ever again. National Volunteers’ Week is a great chance to showcase some of this amazing kindness and encourage more people to sign up. We support hosts and guests every step of the way which offers them great peace of mind. It’s such a fantastic initiative to be part of.”
If you would like to help young people to move on to safer, more stable accommodation please consider becoming a Nightstop volunteer. Hosting is completely flexible on a night-by-night basis, and you’re completely free to choose which nights you would like to host. The charity supports you every step of the way and makes sure all the relevant checks are in place so everyone is safe.
Please visit the Nightstop page for more information.