Run by the charity Action for Children since 2009, Dorset Nightstop places young people aged 16 to 25 with host families at times when they have nowhere else to go.
With youth homelessness an increasing problem across the region, the service is urgently appealing to the county’s residents to consider offering their spare room to a young person for up to three nights a month.
Project co-ordinator Simon Keys said, “We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved over the past eight years and our success has been entirely down to our fantastic volunteer hosts. By giving a vulnerable young person a safe and secure home for a few days means they don’t end up sleeping on the streets and are away from harm.
“We need volunteers who can provide young people with a private room, washing facilities, a hot meal, and, if needed, a listening ear.”
Andy Dacombe, 65, from Piddlehinton near Dorchester, was the first volunteer host for the service in 2009. He said, “It’s such an important project and humbling to see what a warm home, hot food and a bed can do for a young person in need. Many of the young people I’ve had stay have often just found themselves homeless after a family argument or simply didn’t have the family support network we all often take for granted.
“And it’s shocking to hear how quickly things can deteriorate; it often doesn’t take long for many to find themselves homeless only weeks after losing their job. It seems like the problem is getting worse, too – there is very little housing benefit and support these days. Many I’ve helped had been sofa surfing at different friends’ houses for a long time and then suddenly one day they’d run out of sofas.
“It’s great often to see the young person on their first night – as soon as they arrive and realise they’re safe, you see their shoulders drop, their concerned look disappears and they go straight to bed after a hot meal.”
Staff at Dorset Nightstop provide full training for its volunteers as well as close 24/7 on-call support during placements.
The service is also looking for volunteer drivers with a full, valid, British driving licence and fully comprehensive insurance.
The next training sessions for volunteer hosts will be held at Broadstone Methodist Church between 28 September and 12 October. To register your training place, offer your driving services, or find out more about Action for Children’s Dorset Nightstop, call Simon Keys on 01305 753657 / 07779 029292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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