Keeping young people off the streets wins charity national award

Nightstop Devon named Charity of the Year.

Nightstop Devon, whose team of volunteers keep vulnerable young people off the streets by offering them a bed for the night, has been named Charity of the Year in a national competition.

Nightstop, previously featured in the Midweek Herald, provides an essential but largely hidden service to 16 to 25 year olds and has volunteers across East Devon, including Honiton and Exmouth.

One thousand charities entered the Guardian newspaper competition.

Judges included actress Jane Asher, Dame Suzi Leather (head of the charity commission), Baroness Howarth of

Breckland OBE and Lynne Berry OBE, associate of Civil Exchange.

Prizes include �6,000 and tailored packages of support from the Media Trust and the Foundation for Social Improvement.

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Dame Suzi Leather said: “Nightstop Devon is an absolutely brilliant project and we wanted to recognise the fantastic match of public generosity for this really vulnerable group of people.”

Most young people who use the scheme are homeless due to family breakdown and have never been in a similar situation before. Nightstop aims to provide the practical support that vulnerable young people need at this crisis point.

This helps to ensure that they do not get sucked in to a cycle of rough sleeping and the increased risk of mental and physical health problems, isolation, drug and alcohol use and crime that being homeless can bring.

In the last year, Nightstop has arranged over 500 placements for 171 young people in the local area.

Kevin Hunter, Nightstop project co-ordinator, said: “We are all very proud to have won this award. It is recognition of the amazing work our volunteers have done over the last 10 years.

“Our referrals have more than doubled over the last few years and, with increased financial pressures on families and individuals, we are expecting this trend to continue in the coming year.

“Winning this national award is also a reflection of the important role the voluntary sector plays in the South West. Small charity projects like Nightstop Devon work with marginalised young people and show that issues such as homelessness and poverty unfortunately exist in Devon as much as they do anywhere else in the country.”