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Unique Scheme to Tackle Homelessness in the East Riding


12:01am 9th August 2012

Volunteers in East Riding are being urged to come forward to take part in a brand new initiative to help homeless young people in the region.

Thanks to a partnership between the youth homeless charity SASH and Bridlington-based The Hinge Centre, which between them have over 30 years’ experience supporting vulnerable young people in North Yorkshire and East Riding, 16-24 year olds facing a night on the streets will soon have access to a homeless project with a difference: all the accommodation will be provided by local volunteers, known as ‘hosts’, in their own homes.

The approach may seem unusual to people who are more familiar with the idea of helping the homeless through hostels or shelters, but it certainly is not new - SASH has operated this highly successful model in North Yorkshire since 1996, and in the past two years alone its volunteers have offered over 1000 nights of accommodation to homeless young people in their own homes. The volunteer-led project, known as ‘Nightstop’, means that young people who are experiencing a traumatic time in their lives have a welcoming and safe place to stay for a few nights in a home environment, with access to the support they need to get back on their feet.

The scheme is all about keeping young people safe when they are first made homeless, and ensuring that a crisis does not lead to an entrenched problem. SASH is now asking people in East Riding who are concerned at the plight of young people who are not able to live at home to come forward and apply to become ‘hosts’ for the project. This is a unique opportunity to have a direct, hands-on role in making a difference to a young person’s life. All SASH hosts are CRB checked and fully trained and supported for the role. Likewise, all young people who are offered a place through the schemes are thoroughly risk-assessed and police-checked by SASH staff before being accepted. Expenses are paid to hosts for each placement to ensure that volunteers do not end up out of pocket for helping. There is telephone contact available at all times should the host have any questions or concerns.

Kim Coates, who lives in Filey and is part of the current network of Nightstop hosts in North Yorkshire, has been volunteering for just over a year. She says:

“If you have a spare room, and can offer someone a meal, a bed for the night and breakfast, it’s a lovely thing to do for someone else. It just gives young people a place to stay while they get sorted out, if they’re having a hard time. Sometimes they just need a bit of time away from their family”.

Martin Crossland, Strategic Development Manager at The Hinge said:

“We have an average of six young people a week finding themselves homeless, many of whom have already experienced at least one night on the street before they come to us for help. Currently we can’t offer immediate accommodation to keep them safe while we find them something more permanent. Having the option of Nightstop will make a huge difference to these young people.”

SASH Director, Peter Robinson, is encouraging anyone who would like to find out more about the project to get in touch:

“SASH has operated successfully in North Yorkshire for over 16 years and we are delighted at the opportunity to work with colleagues at The Hinge Centre to develop a safe alternative to rough sleeping for young people in East Riding. If you think you could help, please call us on 01904 652043 or email info@safeandsoundhomes.org.uk. There is also lots of information on our website, and we are very happy to put you in touch with other hosts so that you can ask them about their experience.”

Safe and Sound Homes is a registered charity established in 1996 as York Nightstop. It runs Nightstop and Supported Lodgings projects in York and North Yorkshire, helping to ensure that young people facing homelessness are supported and kept safe in the homes of trained and vetted volunteers. SASH Nightstop in North Yorkshire is part funded by North Yorkshire County Council.

Comment from North Yorkshire County Council :

"The council welcomes and supports this additional funding to increase the range of options to tackle and reduce homelessness amongst vulnerable young people. Although only a minority of people sleeping rough are under 25 years old, the Council recognises that this group can be at risk of becoming street homeless and this project will help to prevent this from occurring through valuable advocacy and advice and through access to safe, supported accommodation in a crisis.."

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