A scheme has been set up in Aylesbury Vale, whereby young people facing the risk of being homeless are found temporary housing with a local family.
Aylesbury Nightstop, set up by local charity Youth Concern, is supported by Aylesbury Vale District council and re-homes vulnerable young people, aged 16-25, with volunteer families.
The families offer a spare bedroom and evening meal to young people dealing with complex issues in their family life. who may be forced to sofa-surf or sleep rough.
During that time Youth Concern’s Nightstop staff can support the young people to help address the problems that caused them to become homeless. They can also secure longer-term accommodation for those who need help getting back on their feet.
All young people who are referred to the Nightstop scheme are risk-assessed and the hosts receive training and expenses, as well as 24 hour on-call support.
Paul and Lisa, from Bedgrove in Aylesbury, who have two young sons, Theo and Isaac, have been hosts for Nightstop for four months, and are very supportive of the scheme.
Lisa said: “The young people who have stayed with us have been happy to fit into our busy schedule and we have enjoyed getting to know each of them and hearing a little of their story, during their short stays.
"People often remark that it’s a ‘big risk’ to invite a stranger into your house, however we have never had a bad experience and Youth Concern are on-call for support or advice 24/7 and regularly check in with us.”
Gemma (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) is one of the young people who has used the Nightstop service and it made a big difference to her: “The hosts were nice and made me feel relaxed. I was safe and comfortable.
"I would recommend Nightstop to anyone who is in need, they give you a safe place to stay to stop you sleeping on the streets.”
In 2016, Nightstop helped 66 young people in Aylesbury Vale, and demand has been increasing year-on-year.
Councillor Angela Macpherson, AVDC’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Civic Ammenities, said: “Nightstop plays a vital role in the prevention of youth homelessness by providing an immediate response to young people facing a homelessness crisis.
"Hosts within the community do an amazing job at opening their homes to a vulnerable young person, providing a refuge when they need it most.”
The charity is searching for compassionate people in Aylesbury, with a spare room, to volunteer and join the team of hosts who proved vulnerable young people with a safe place to stay for a few nights.
If you think you might be able to help please contact Youth Concern’s Chief Executive firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.