Nightstop – the emergency accommodation network for young people experiencing homelessness – today (2 June 2020) made an urgent appeal for volunteer hosts and chaperones to help keep its services in London running.
During Volunteers’ Week, the vital service, which is run by Depaul UK, revealed it has experienced a more than two-thirds drop in the number of bed-nights it has been able to provide in London 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, Nightstop London continues to operate and take in young people.
But more volunteers are urgently needed to ensure the service does not cease operating and can begin to prepare 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.
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.