SPARE rooms in people’s homes in Glasgow are to be made available to young people facing the prospect of sleeping rough, on the street.
It is widely recognised that the moment a young person begins sleeping rough, it can mark the beginning of a spiral of decline and danger.
Four volunteer hosts have been recruited, vetted and trained by the homelessness charity, Simon Community Scotland.
Called Nightstop, it is launching in Glasgow following accreditation by Depaul UK, the charity operators of a long-established UK-wide network of other Nightstop facilities.
Funding, to help make it happens, has come from the Big Lottery Fund and the charitable arm of Rangers football Club.
The service will involve young people being hosted for a maximum of three evenings over a three-week period, during which time they will receive intensive support from statutory and voluntary agencies in a bid to resolve the issues that led them to Nightstop in the first place.
At present, a further three volunteers are going through their training and Simon Community Scotland has bold ambitions to extend the service and – to that end – is hosting a recruitment event on the sixth of next month aimed at prospective volunteers.
The initiative is being officially launched today, January 19 2018.
Says Pauline Hannigan, head of Nightstop and Volunteering at Simon Community Scotland: “Often, young person become homeless through no fault of their own.
“Most young people who have come through Nightstop UK cite family or relationships breaking down as the main reason and, of these young people, over half say violence was involved.”
Says volunteer, Geraldine Feeley: “I was inspired by the ordinary people on a Channel 4 documentary who opened their homes to provide a safe place for a young person for a night.
“I hope that, in future, any young person that stays at my home will feel safe and welcome.”
Adds Lorraine McGrath, chief executive of Simon Community Scotland: “The launch of the Nightstop service sees us move positively towards early intervention in youth homelessness by providing a practical solution, with a long-standing legacy of success, having run in other UK cities for over 30 years.
“We are delighted to have been accredited by leading youth homelessness charity, Depaul UK, to deliver this service in Glasgow.
“We are only able to reach this point of launch thanks to the generosity of the people of Glasgow who have shown their support for the service by volunteering to open up their homes and hearts to young people who need them at a point of crisis.”
Scottish Government Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart MSP, said: “I am delighted to see the establishment of a Nightstop service for young people in Glasgow – this was identified by our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group as a priority action, which could have significant and long-lasting impact.
“This service helps ensure more safe and warm places to stay for those young people at risk of rough sleeping. It is also a recognition that, for some people, including those who may have more complex needs, simply providing accommodation is not always enough and this is at the heart of Nightstop’s approach.
“The Scottish Government is committed to tackling and preventing homelessness, backed by £50 million to drive change. This is a really important step in that shared ambition. I look forward to continuing to work with Simon Community and others in transforming outcomes for people experiencing homelessness across Scotland.”
Says Maureen McGinn, chair, Big Lottery Fund Scotland: “Glasgow people are renowned for their warm welcomes and generous nature, and many volunteer hosts are ready to open up their homes to vulnerable young people through the Nightstop initiative.
“Most of us will never face the prospect of sleeping rough on the streets, yet for too many young people, this has become their reality.
“To tackle this issue effectively requires collaboration between many partners and agencies along with experienced support organisations like Simon Community Scotland.
“I am delighted that National Lottery money has helped to make this project possible, and look forward to following its progress.”
Adds Nicola Harwood, associate director – Prevention, Depaul UK: “We are absolutely delighted to work with Simon Community Scotland in launching Nightstop in Glasgow.
“Nightstop provides vital support to young people who for one reason or another have no one to turn to in their hour of need. With enough volunteers in Glasgow opening up their home as Nightstop hosts, we can ensure no young person sleeps in an unsafe place.”
Says Connal Cochrane, director, Rangers Charity Foundation: “The launch of Nightstop is hugely exciting for the Rangers Charity Foundation, Simon Community Scotland and, indeed, the city of Glasgow, representing an important and innovative milestone in the battle to tackle homelessness in our city.
“The Foundation was delighted to donate over £17,000 to the project, which helped to employ a full-time youth homelessness prevention and recruitment worker for the initiative.
“The funds were raised by fans taking part in our Big Ibrox Sleep Out events, and I know those supporters are proud to see the fruits of that challenge having such a significant impact on vulnerable young people at risk of sleeping rough.
“We have also helped the Simon Community recruit a core group of vetted Nightstop volunteers, who are now trained and ready to welcome young people into their home.
“I’m sure this service, which is the only project of its kind in the west of Scotland, will be a huge success, and we are delighted to continue to work with the Simon Community this season supporting another brand-new project, Street Cycles.”
Notes for editors:
The media is invited to send a representative to the official launch of Nightstop in Glasgow, taking place at the headquarters of Simon Community Scotland.
When: 12noon, January 19 2018
Where: 472 Ballater Street, Glasgow G5 0QW
Available for interview: Volunteer, Geraldine Feeley, and Simon Community Scotland chief executive, Lorraine McGrath.
Please contact Tricia Imrie, assistant director for development, Simon Community Scotland, on 07508 754773, to indicate any intention to attend the launch.
Simon Community Scotland is hosting a Nightstop volunteer recruitment event, on the evening of February 6, at its HQ (472 Ballater Street, Glasgow G5 0QW). For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Community Scotland’s RSVP service engaged with over 50 young people sleeping rough in Glasgow in 2015/16.
Simon Community Scotland received accreditation to operate the Nightstop service by national youth homelessness charity, Depaul UK, in March 2017.
Of 35,500 homelessness applications in Scotland, just under 10,500 were from young people aged under 25.
The Big Lottery Fund awarded £150,000 in support of the delivery of Simon Community Scotland’s Nightstop service.
There are 535 hosts involved in Nightstop UK.
Over half of all rough sleepers first slept on the streets before they were 21 and homeless people are nine times more likely to commit suicide.
People who are long-term rough sleeping have a life expectancy of 47. The average life expectancy of a women rough sleeping is 43.
Rough sleepers are 13 times more likely than the general public to experience violence, 47 times more likely to be the victim of theft and three times more likely to have been a victim of a road traffic accident.
One in ten rough sleepers are estimated to have been a victim of sexual violence within the previous 12 months.
Many LGBT youth feel scared of accessing homelessness accommodation for fear of sexual attack and/or bullying.
Sources: Simon Community Scotland; Homelessness: A silent killer (December 2011, Crisis); The unhealthy state of homelessness – health audit results 2014 (Homeless Link); Scottish Government; and LGBT Youth.
About Simon Community Scotland
Launched in 1966, Simon Community Scotland delivers around 170,000 hours of support every year and engages with up to 3,000 people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
Around 50 per cent of the people we support are able to move on ‘positively’ over the course of any three-month period.
We operate eight residential facilities; and we actively engage to reach rough sleepers in Glasgow and our ‘street team’ see around 150 people on the streets every month, with up to 40 new cases each month.
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Contact: Lorraine McGrath