Gloucestershire Nightstop works with young people aged 16 – 25 who are homeless or in housing need. Our organisation has been working in Gloucestershire since 1999 and over this time we have helped hundreds of young people that come from within the County. We are a community based organisation and this is reflected in our approach to homelessness.
One of our main activities is the Nightstop service from which we take our name. Nightstop provides emergency accommodation for young people aged 16–25 in the homes of trained and vetted volunteers (hosts). People are often unaware of this aspect of our work and are surprised that there are people that are happy to open their doors in this way. While hosting can be daunting at first welcoming young people into their homes soon becomes second nature. We often say that hosts are ordinary people making an extraordinary contribution.
For those that care about young people and have a spare room, hosting can be a unique and rewarding experience. The young people that use our service come from a wide range of backgrounds and this is true for the hosts also. As you might imagine, when you put the two together the possibilities are endless. This is well illustrated in conversation with the hosts.
Sue, a host for two years, says: ‘Nightstop offers a reciprocal environment where the host can learn so much from the young person. The young people I have hosted have come from many different backgrounds and cultures – it has been such a pleasure sharing their experiences’.
Alison, who has hosted for three years, echoes these thoughts when she says: ‘being a host is easy, I approach each young person as a welcome guest, and think of myself as fortunate to have the opportunity to meet them. It is often easier for complete strangers to get on with each other than with those who have expectations’.
Frances, a host of three years also, adds: ‘Having young people in my home enables me to meet youngsters from all sorts of backgrounds. The essential thing is, though, that people are people and if you take a friendly interest it is easy and natural to exchange experiences and views with anyone, while gaining insight into each others’ lives’.
This aspect of the service is has a huge impact on the young people too. Alastair spent nearly four weeks with the same host. Looking back he said: ‘I was anxious because they didn’t know me and had no reason to be nice to me. She was older than most people I would hang out with and her son was a little different to most of my friends but we got on really well. I felt a bit shy when I first met them but after a while we became more comfortable with each other and started to enjoy each others company. In the end I felt like I was included in everything and part of the family’. In summarising his stay Alastair said: ‘I probably wouldn’t have met them normally but I am glad I did’.
Aaron spent a similar time with a host family. He said: ‘I don’t think I would have met them in normal circumstances and’ was surprised ‘that there were people who would do it out of the goodness of their hearts’. He went on to say that ‘I found we developed an understanding and had lots in common – it’s good to have company and feel like you are part of something’. When asked what the impact had been of staying with a host family Aaron said: ‘When someone does something like that for you it makes you feel like doing it for someone else’.
The above are just snippets of many similar stories that develop between hosts and young people. Hosting is very flexible and can be done over a number of days or weeks. Expenses are available and payments of up to £160 can be made for longer term stays of up to six weeks. We call this service Crashpad. If you think you may be interested in hosting or simply want to know more about the service that Gloucestershire Nightstop offers please get in touch with a member of staff on (01452)331330 or by email on
We look forward to hearing from you. www.gloucestershirenightstop.org.uk