Volunteer hosts to offer spare rooms to young people facing homelessness in Glasgow

Spare rooms in people’s homes in Glasgow are to be made available to young people facing the prospect of sleeping rough on the street, under a new initiative launch today by homelessness charity Simon Community Scotland.

It is widely recognised that the moment a young person begins sleeping rough, it can mark the beginning of a spiral of decline and danger.

Four volunteer hosts have been recruited, vetted and trained by the homelessness charity.

Called Nightstop, the project is launching in Glasgow following accreditation by Depaul UK, the charity operators of a long-established UK-wide network of other Nightstop facilities.

Funding, to help make it happens, has come from the Big Lottery Fund and the charitable arm of Rangers Football Club.

The service will involve young people being hosted for a maximum of three evenings over a three-week period, during which time they will receive intensive support from statutory and voluntary agencies in a bid to resolve the issues that led them to Nightstop in the first place.

At present, a further three volunteers are going through their training and Simon Community Scotland has bold ambitions to extend the service and is hosting a recruitment event on February 6 aimed at prospective volunteers.

Pauline Hannigan, head of Nightstop and volunteering at Simon Community Scotland, said: “Often, young person become homeless through no fault of their own. Most young people who have come through Nightstop UK cite family or relationships breaking down as the main reason and, of these young people, over half say violence was involved.”

Geraldine Feeley, one of the volunteers, said: “I was inspired by the ordinary people on a Channel 4 documentary who opened their homes to provide a safe place for a young person for a night.

“I hope that, in future, any young person that stays at my home will feel safe and welcome.”

Lorraine McGrath, chief executive of Simon Community Scotland, added: “The launch of the Nightstop service sees us move positively towards early intervention in youth homelessness by providing a practical solution, with a long-standing legacy of success, having run in other UK cities for over 30 years.

“We are delighted to have been accredited by leading youth homelessness charity, Depaul UK, to deliver this service in Glasgow.

“We are only able to reach this point of launch thanks to the generosity of the people of Glasgow who have shown their support for the service by volunteering to open up their homes and hearts to young people who need them at a point of crisis.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart MSP said the Nightstop service for young people in Glasgow was identified by the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group as a priority action, which could have significant and long-lasting impact.

He added: “This service helps ensure more safe and warm places to stay for those young people at risk of rough sleeping. It is also a recognition that, for some people, including those who may have more complex needs, simply providing accommodation is not always enough and this is at the heart of Nightstop’s approach.

“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling and preventing homelessness, backed by £50 million to drive change. This is a really important step in that shared ambition. I look forward to continuing to work with Simon Community and others in transforming outcomes for people experiencing homelessness across Scotland.”

Maureen McGinn, chair, Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: “Glasgow people are renowned for their warm welcomes and generous nature, and many volunteer hosts are ready to open up their homes to vulnerable young people through the Nightstop initiative.

“Most of us will never face the prospect of sleeping rough on the streets, yet for too many young people, this has become their reality.

“To tackle this issue effectively requires collaboration between many partners and agencies along with experienced support organisations like Simon Community Scotland.

“I am delighted that National Lottery money has helped to make this project possible, and look forward to following its progress.”

Nicola Harwood, associate director – Prevention, Depaul UK, added: “We are absolutely delighted to work with Simon Community Scotland in launching Nightstop in Glasgow.

“Nightstop provides vital support to young people who for one reason or another have no one to turn to in their hour of need. With enough volunteers in Glasgow opening up their home as Nightstop hosts, we can ensure no young person sleeps in an unsafe place.”

Connal Cochrane, director, Rangers Charity Foundation, said: “The launch of Nightstop is hugely exciting for the Rangers Charity Foundation, Simon Community Scotland and, indeed, the city of Glasgow, representing an important and innovative milestone in the battle to tackle homelessness in our city.

“The Foundation was delighted to donate over £17,000 to the project, which helped to employ a full-time youth homelessness prevention and recruitment worker for the initiative.

“The funds were raised by fans taking part in our Big Ibrox Sleep Out events, and I know those supporters are proud to see the fruits of that challenge having such a significant impact on vulnerable young people at risk of sleeping rough.

“We have also helped the Simon Community recruit a core group of vetted Nightstop volunteers, who are now trained and ready to welcome young people into their home.

“I’m sure this service, which is the only project of its kind in the west of Scotland, will be a huge success, and we are delighted to continue to work with the Simon Community this season supporting another brand-new project, Street Cycles.”

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