Rallying call to help homeless

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The youth homelessness charity SASH is calling for more volunteers in Beverley to come forward for a new project to help keep young homeless people safe at night.

The charity prevents young people from becoming homeless by offering them a room in the home of a volunteer.

It runs a service known as Nightstop that ensures young people have somewhere safe to stay in an emergency, thanks to a network of volunteer hosts who provide a bed for the night, an evening meal and breakfast the next day.

This enables the young people to access the help they need to resolve their problems, so that a time of crisis does not lead to long-term homelessness and unemployment.

While SASH has operated in York and North Yorkshire since 1996, the Nightstop project in the East Riding has only been running since last October.

In Beverley, referrals for young people needing the service will be made by the Cherry Tree Centre, run by the Beverley Cherry Tree Community Association.

The centre provides free advice to local people on a range of issues, including housing. Jim Sharp, Secretary of the Association, said: “There is very little accommodation for young homeless people in Beverley and as a result they often have to be moved to hostels in Hull, as happened recently with a homeless 17 year old girl. The Nightstop service will make a big difference to young people with nowhere to go, as we’ll be able to offer them somewhere for a few nights locally while they sort out their problems.”

SASH now has eight host households across the region that are offering their spare room for a few nights to young people when they are first made homeless. However, in January alone it provided 36 nights of accommodation to vulnerable young people and urgently needs more volunteers in the Beverley area to ensure it can offer help to those who need it.

Half the people SASH helps are just 16 or 17 years old and very vulnerable. Director Peter Robinson said: “Most of the time, they are homeless as a result of family breakdown and just need a safe place to stay for a short period while more permanent arrangements are made. We’re delighted that local people have come forward so quickly to help us get this service off the ground, but we need a lot more volunteer hosts so that we can be sure we never have to turn anyone away. We would welcome volunteers from the Beverley area. You don’t need any special skills – just a willingness to help and a spare room. We provide full training and expenses so no-one is out of pocket for helping.”

Last year, the charity experienced a rise in demand for its Nightstop service of over 90% and provided over 840 nights of accommodation in York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding. Having the support of a Nightstop service means that young people do not have to experience a night on the streets and have a chance to address their problems before homelessness becomes a long-term issue.

Anyone who would like to find out more about how they can help is urged to get in touch with SASH on 01904 652043. There is more information on www.sash-uk.org.uk.

SASH prevents young people from becoming homeless by offering them a room in the home of a volunteer. The charity works across York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire. The project in the East Riding is funded by the Homelessness Transition Fund. For more information visit www.sash-uk.org.uk or call Clare Usher on 01904 652043.

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