National youth homelessness charity Depaul UK, has this week launched Nightstop Essex and is urgently looking for local volunteers to support the initiative – particularly in the boroughs of Chelmsford and Colchester.

Nightstop prevents young people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness from having to spend a night on the streets by placing them in the homes of volunteer hosts.

The launch of Nightstop Essex is the result of a partnership between Depaul, Essex County Council, Chelmsford City Council and Colchester Borough Homes. In Colchester, Nightstop Essex is being jointly delivered with Colchester Korban Project, a charity that provide supported housing for 16 – 25 year olds who have found themselves in crisis.

Alison Hartley, Senior Nightstop Coordinator, Depaul UK, said: “Many young people in Essex are facing a crisis, as the cost of living goes up, employment opportunities are limited and the support they are entitled to is reduced. This is why we are calling on the people of Essex to join us in supporting the young people in our community. By becoming a Nightstop host, you can support someone at a time of crisis in a way that is safe and fits around your life and time commitments.”

Alison added: “We are delighted to be brining this life-changing service to Essex and are proud to be working with all of our local partners to ensure we can be there when young people need us.”

All Nightstop hosts are vetted and given training and support to ensure that they, their families and the young person who stays with them are appropriately safeguarded.

Volunteers are in control of how often they would like to be available to host and have the flexibility to choose which days they would like to welcome someone into their home.

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care said: “We’re pleased to be working in partnership with our city and borough partners on the Nightstop Programme. Nightstop aims to prevent young people from turning to homeless rough sleeping which could in turn lead to problems escalating. By working together with our partners we aspire to end homeless rough sleeping in Essex.”

Cllr Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council, said: “Nobody should have to live on the streets in 2021. Out of a growing concern about the level of homelessness in this country, the City Council has set up a Homelessness Forum. It brings together many different groups and organisations who all work together for the same aim – ending homelessness in Chelmsford.

“Bringing Nightstop to Chelmsford is an important part of that work and will give targeted help to young people who become homeless. If you could give a young person a temporary home, you could save them from sleeping rough and stop them from needlessly spiralling into further difficulties. You could help to change their lives for the better in a big way.”

Cllr Andrew Ellis, Colchester Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing & Planning, said: “It’s essential that young, vulnerable residents in Colchester have access to a place to call home, and we’re proud to be working with partners and volunteers to help make this happen.

“Many of Colchester Borough Homes’ past achievements are the result of partnership working and we look forward to working with Depaul, Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council to reduce and prevent the number of young people in Colchester who are rough sleeping or homeless.”

Mark Wood, Chief Executive, Korban, said: “We have been part of the Joint Referral Panel for supported housing providers in Colchester for many years and have often found that young people need somewhere safe to stay while they are waiting for a place in supported accommodation to become available.

“Korban started out as Colchester Nightstop in 2006 and we felt it was important to offer something like this again to meet the needs of young people in our town. Earlier this year we were awarded a Nationwide Community Grant to enable us to deliver Nightstop locally, so we’re thrilled to be part of the Nightstop Essex partnership.”

Depaul UK – supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery – leads the national Nightstop Network, and directly runs seven of the services in London, the North East & Cumbria, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes and now Essex.

The Nightstop Network comprises more than 30 services covering a geographical area from Glasgow to Guernsey.

To find out more about becoming a Nightstop host in Essex, contact: nightstop.essex@depaulcharity.org.uk

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