Could you offer a home to town's sofa surfers?

PUBLISHED: 03:40 14 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:21 24 May 2010

A NORTH Somerset charity is offering 'ordinary members of the public' £8 a night to put up a homeless person. Nightstop North Somerset is searching for volunteers who would be willing to offer a spare room to a single person aged 18-25 who has been on the

A NORTH Somerset charity is offering 'ordinary members of the public' £8 a night to put up a homeless person.Nightstop North Somerset is searching for volunteers who would be willing to offer a spare room to a single person aged 18-25 who has been on the street, has been evicted or who does not have a permanent home.In return the 'host' could claim £8-10 in expenses back for every night the young person stays with them for up to a week at a time. Volunteer John Staddon hopes the new project will be up and running by March. Mr Staddon said: "Youngsters aged over 18 do not qualify for priority housing. If they do get a bed and breakfast often they have to be out of it during the day and many just 'sofa surf'."As volunteers we are frightened they will fall down the social scale and turn to drugs or crime. We are looking for spare rooms in the homes of ordinary members of the public for a week at a time but don't want people who are judgemental."We cannot accept homeless people under the influence of drink and drugs. By talking to them we can make a judgement on this. We would also ask for a referee and would check if they were subject to mental health problems."The project, which is one of 40 across the country, is affiliated to national organisation Nightstop UK and is run in association with Weston's YMCA and the Somewhere to Go day centre based at St John's Hall in the Boulevard. Nightstop North Somerset has been printing an appeal to recruit volunteers which says: "Our overriding aim is to help divert often traumatised young people from the risk of long-term homelessness and its attendant personal and social decline."At the very least offering respite in a secure and wholesome environment in which to take stock and plan towards more settled circumstances."To take advantage of the new scheme youngsters can drop into centres across town, including the Citizen's Advice Bureau, The Salvation Army headquarters in Carlton Street and the Town Hall. They will then be referred to a housing association office in the town which will put them in touch with a 'host.'

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