Take vulnerable kids off streets

PUBLISHED: 14:16 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 14:44 20 April 2010

VOLUNTEER hosts are being sought for an innovative emergency accommodation service for 16 to 25-year-olds. Nightstop Devon, launched in 2001, provides accommodation on a one night-at-a-time basis across East Devon. The charity, supported by the Big Lotter

VOLUNTEER hosts are being sought for an innovative emergency accommodation service for 16 to 25-year-olds. Nightstop Devon, launched in 2001, provides accommodation on a one night-at-a-time basis across East Devon. The charity, supported by the Big Lottery Fund, is keen to recruit more volunteer hosts and other unpaid helpers in Honiton. "Nightstop has been a great success, with a majority of the young people placed going on to find appropriate housing after their stay," said a spokesperson. "Young people rarely become homeless through any fault of their own. "The main cause of youth homelessness is family breakdown, leaving a young person in a vulnerable position and lacking support." Over 60 per cent of young people referred to Nightstop Devon are homeless because of family breakdown. A survey carried out by the Children's Society in 2005 found that 10.2 per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds had run away from home for at least one night. A Nightstop spokesperson said: "Young people are particularly vulnerable when homeless. "Immediately, they are at increased risk of harm from physical and sexual abuse, they are more likely to become entrenched in the drug and alcohol street culture and they are significantly more likely to offend." A young person, who has benefited from the Nightstop service, told the Herald: "I had begun to think 'Why should I care about anyone? No one cares about me'. "Then I found out that some people - total strangers - did care. It was a turning point for me." A Nightstop volunteer said: "Joining the scheme has increased my awareness of homelessness, and has deepened my respect for people who have to handle such hard knocks in life." Volunteer hosts provide safe accommodation, an evening meal and breakfast for one night at a time to a young person who is homeless. In return, volunteers receive expenses, training and 24-hour support. Telephone contact volunteers are also required to take out-of-hours referrals on one night a week, between 6pm and 9pm. Volunteer drivers are also needed to transport young people to accommodation. If you can help Nightstop in any way, call (01392) 274853.

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