Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Sometimes, a meal and a bed for a couple of nights is all that is needed to help a young person get back on track.
Or at least to stop them from sliding into homelessness. Nightstop, a programme delivered in Edinburgh and rolled out in West Lothian by the Rock Trust, provides just that via the homes of volunteers hosts who make a spare room available for up to 14 nights for a young person who, for various reasons, needs emergency accommodation.
“We receive referrals for a whole range of reasons,” says Mark Fieldhouse, Nightstop Development Worker with the Rock Trust. “We help young people who find themselves in crisis, in many cases due to breakdown in family relationships. They need safe, friendly accommodation while we help them work on longer-term solutions.” Whilst there is a good number of host families in Edinburgh, more are needed to cover all parts of the city, and more are needed in West Lothian
The Rock Trust, established in 1991 in Edinburgh in response to youth homelessness, helps young people aged 16 – 25 by providing advice and support, keeping their education on track, finding work, a drop-in centre in Edinburgh and a range of other services. Nightstop is the emergency element of this, where a young person in crisis can call a helpline and is provided with a safe place immediately, while longer-term supported accommodation is arranged, or until they can return home.
“Nightstop West Lothian provides a safe, family based, alternative to traditional hotel or hostel emergency accommodation.” A report in 2016 by Depaul UK, the organisation which set up the Nightstop programme, reported that young people “experienced very dangerous situations in their attempts to stay off the streets, including staying with strangers while constantly in fear of assault, lodging with an uncle addicted to hard drugs, going to all-night parties with predatory men or suggesting ‘sleepovers’ to school friends simply to find a place to stay.” By staying in a host’s home instead, they are much more likely to get the time-out and breathing space that they need in a safe environment, and to move on to a positive resolution to their issues.
Could you be a host?
As a volunteer host, you are fully supported with training and support from the Rock Trust. You provide an evening meal and a bedroom for the young person, and you let them know which parts of the house they can use – just like you would in a normal bed and breakfast arrangement. (They are not at home during the day as they are out in education, work or being supported by the Rock Trust). Your expenses are covered. If you are interested in helping, please see http://www.rocktrust.org/nightstop/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Host families are needed in Edinburgh and West Lothian.
Emily’s story: When Emily was 16 her living circumstances were “not the best,” and she says when her mum kicked her out of the house she went to the council. The council put Emily in touch with the Rock Trust who arranged a host for her. The first evening “the hosts knocked on my door and asked if I was hungry, and if I wanted to eat in my room or with them. I went and sat at the table. They had good banter. It was good. I tried to help them cleaning up but they said no and for me to sit and rest. ….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.”
Do you or a young person you know need emergency accommodation?
Call 0131 557 4059
The Rock Trust, 55 Albany Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3QY
Tel: 0131 557 4059. Open Monday – Friday, 8:45 – 17:00.
The Rock Trust is a charity registered in Scotland, number SCO18708
Article published in Konect March 2019
Author: Helen-Jane Shearer