Nightstop – the emergency accommodation network for young people experiencing homelessness – has made an urgent appeal for volunteer hosts and chaperones to help keep its services running.
During Volunteers’ Week, which runs from Sunday 31st May to Saturday 6th June, the vital service, which is run by Depaul UK, revealed it has experienced a two-thirds drop in the number of bed-nights it can provide during the coronavirus crisis, because of a lack of available volunteers.
Nightstop provides same-night, emergency accommodation, placing young people experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness, in the homes of well trained and vetted volunteer hosts. The UK-wide network prevents young people from sleeping on the streets or putting themselves at risk of violence or abuse in return for a place to stay.
Despite the shortage of hosts, and further challenges presented by the Coronavirus crisis, around half (14 out of 31) Nightstops across England, Scotland and Wales continue to operate.
But more volunteers are urgently needed to ensure no more Nightstops are forced to cease operating and to prepare the network for the easing of lockdown measures.
Mark Robinson, Head of Prevention and Services at Depaul UK, said: “Throughout the country we have seen a surge in community spirit and people supporting each other. This is the spirit Nightstop is built upon and on which we are now call to ensure we can continue to be a lifeline for young people who have nowhere else to go.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of Nightstop, and without them we simply are not able to operate. The demand for Nightstop will continue throughout the coronavirus crisis and is likely to grow as we start to come out of the lockdown. High levels of unemployment, record numbers of people accessing Universal Credit, and an incredible strain being placed on households and relationships will make our services an even more important lifeline for those increasingly at risk of homelessness following the devastating effects of the coronavirus and lockdown measures.”
To minimise potential risk and spread of Covid-19, all young people accessing the service as well as hosts are being screened for coronavirus symptoms.
Households are also being asked to provide a safe place for a week at a time to minimise the movement of people.
The call comes after Sir Trevor McDonald, veteran newsman and President of Depaul UK, issued a message of support for the charity during the Covid-19 crisis.
“In my lifelong career as a journalist and newsreader, I’ve seen that overcoming extraordinary crises, such as the coronavirus pandemic, demands extraordinary effort from dedicated people,” he said.
“For 30 years, Depaul UK have been supporting young people at risk of homelessness. Their staff are meeting this crisis head on, running new, emergency accommodation for those who would otherwise be left on the streets, and continuing to provide safe accommodation, support and counselling to almost 1,000 young people with nowhere else to turn.
“However, this crisis has left Depaul UK understaffed and short of the resources they desperately need. With your support, they can provide more young people with a safe, stable place to stay and the chance to escape homelessness for good.”
Depaul UK – supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery – leads the national Nightstop Network, and directly runs five of the services in London, the North East & Cumbria, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Hertfordshire.
The Nightstop Network comprises 31 services covering a geographical area from Glasgow to Guernsey.
All Nightstop hosts are thoroughly vetted and given in-depth training and support to ensure that they, their families and the young person who stays with them are appropriately safeguarded.
Picture: Nightstop logo.