Volunteer hosts needed to stop young people sleeping rough in Weston-super-Mare

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 October 2018

Nightstop needs more volunteers to prevent young people from sleeping on the streets. Picture: Carol Thacker.

Nightstop needs more volunteers to prevent young people from sleeping on the streets. Picture: Carol Thacker.

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A charity which keeps young people off the streets is looking for more volunteer hosts in Weston-super-Mare.

There has been a huge rise in homelessness over the past eight years and the YMCA in Weston is working to prevent people from sleeping on the streets by putting them up with host families.

Joe Heslop, homeless support and Nightstop co-ordinator with the YMCA, said: “One of the projects we’ve been developing is Nightstop.

“We’ve been working with young people and volunteers to support these people to prevent them from rough sleeping.

“Nightstop is community host scheme – when someone has a spare room to offer to someone aged 16-25 in need of emergency accommodation.

“It provides them with a safe place to stay for one to 14 nights.

“It’s about providing young people with an opportunity so they don’t have to sleep on the street.”

According to the YMCA, there has been a 169 per cent increase in the number of rough sleepers in the UK since 2010.

Between October 2017 and January 2018, there were around 4,751 rough sleepers on any given night in the UK.

Joe said: “Once people start sleeping on the streets, their physical and mental health deteriorates.

“We work with them and support them to engage in services.

“Some are still in work and we support them so they can carry on working.

“If you are homeless it’s really hard to keep a job.

“If you lose your job it’s really hard to get a job when you’re homeless – it’s a vicious cycle.

“Since January 2017 we’ve placed 20 young people – out of these 14 were able to move into their own accommodation, three of them returned to their family, two disengaged with the service and one returned to their foster home.

“It’s about supporting that young person who 
has fallen out of their family home, had a relationship breakdown or been evicted.

“It gives us the opportunity to work with them to find them somewhere to move onto.

“We can do something in the community to help people who find themselves homeless.”

To find out more about becoming a host, log on to www.ymca-sc.org or to speak to someone call 01278 726000.

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