Nightstop is an initiative set up by Depaul UK to support homeless young people, and is now delivered by charities across the UK, including the Rock Trust. The initiative is sometimes known as ‘community hosting’ and ‘supported lodgings’.
The initiative involves members of the community providing a spare room to a young person in crisis for short periods of time, and supporting them during the duration of their stay with them. These individuals are known as ‘community hosts’ or ‘Nightstop hosts’.
Nightstop was set up as a safe, supportive alternative to temporary accommodation, both to prevent young people from becoming homeless in the first place, and to help those who have found themselves having to sleep rough.
Reasons young people may need Nightstop:
- They have fallen out with their household (for example family or partner), and fear they will be made homeless as a result. Having a week or 2 away from their home, offering them respite and a chance to access mediation, can be the difference between repairing their relationships and becoming homeless.
The breakdown of relationships, particular with parents, is the single biggest reason young people become homeless.
- They have found themselves homeless, but there is no temporary accommodation (such as a shelter, hostel or B&B) available on the day they seek help from the Council. Nightstop can be the one thing that saves them from sleeping on the streets
- There is temporary accommodation available but they are scared of sleeping in a hostel or shelter with other people. In some cases the worker who is supporting them (from the Council or a charity) may realise themselves that the young person is too vulnerable to sleep in temporary accommodation.
Temporary accommodation can be incredibly intimidating for a young person who has found themselves alone for the first time or who has a mental health condition. It is often the case that individuals, whether a young person or not, would rather sleep rough than in temporary accommodation.
- Young people can access Nightstop by coming to the Rock Trust directly. In many cases they will be referred to us by the Council and other charities when one of the above issues is apparent.
- A Rock Trust project worker meets the young person and works out with them if Nightstop is the best way to help them, or whether they need another type of support.
- If Nightstop is the most appropriate solution, the project worker will match one of the hosts to the young person, and contact them to see if they can stay with them.
- The project worker goes with the young person to the host’s home to help them settle in.
- The young person stays with their host for as long as is needed, whilst simultaneously accessing appropriate support from the Rock Trust, usually the stay is no more than 2 weeks.
- The stay comes to an end and the Rock Trust help the young person with their next steps, depending on their circumstances, this could be helping them re-unite with their family, accessing appropriate temporary accommodation, or preferably long-term accommodation in a Rock Trust flat or equivalent.
Being a Nightstop Host requires flexibility, patience and empathy. It is an incredibly rewarding experience and one of the most impactful ways to make a difference to the lives of homeless young people. Being a host involves:
- Having a full PVG check (arranged by the Rock Trust).
- A full days training with Rock Trust staff.
- Having a spare room available on a flexible basis, should a young person need an emergency place to stay for 1 night – 2 weeks.
- Helping the young person to feel comfortable in their home.
- Being at home and available to the young person on the evenings that they are staying.
- Providing meals for the young person during their stay.
- Being prepared to listen and engage with the young people during their stay.
- 24 hour access to support from the Nightstop project worker by phone should it be needed.
Hosts also receive expenses to cover the costs of supporting a young person.
Nightstop in their words:
‘I stayed 4 nights before going home. While I was there I realised that I’m my own person and needed to stop doing everything for everyone else. I realised that talking to good people makes you feel better and that I wasn’t such a mess up as I thought I was.’ – Emily, 17 years old. Read her full story here.
‘Being a Nightstop host has been an immensely rewarding experience. You feel like you’ve made a difference in your own little pocket of the world.’ – current Nightstop host.
‘The young person who stayed with me was really pleasant. He was friendly thoughtful, sociable and considerate’ – current Nightstop host.