Homeless charity Sussex Nightstop is marking its ten year anniversary by launching its ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign.
Its aim is to raise awareness about the issue of youth homelessness.
Sussex Nightstop provides a safety net for those aged 16-25 preventing them from becoming homeless.
The charity matches vulnerable young people with volunteer hosts who put them up in their spare room, on a night-by-night basis.
This gives the young person a safe space to resolve their housing problems, so they don’t risk spiralling into long-term homelessness or the dangers of rough sleeping.
The ‘Sleep Safe’ campaign is urging people to help alleviate this often-hidden problem of youth homelessness by supporting Sussex Nightstop’s work.
It also aims to raise £10,000 towards developing and delivering the charity’s services for young people including the recruitment and training of more volunteer hosts.
Sussex Nightstop executive director Alison Marino said: “We see first-hand the increasing and deepening challenges that young people face with regard to securing a safe and stable place to live. We need to continue to be there for them. We have tasked ourselves in providing a service that supports a range of different needs and we want to develop our volunteer host pool, both in numbers and skills. All of this will enable us to reach more people and move towards our goal of offering a safe bed night every night.
“The Sleep Safe campaign– the messages it spreads and the funds it raises – will help us towards our goal. People have real concern for this issue and on behalf of Sussex Nightstop I offer encouragement and thanks for supporting our campaign.”
Over the past decade the Brighton charity has matched 3,000 bed nights to 345 young people.
A young person who has previously used Sussex Nightstop’s service said: “Thanks to you guys I achieved the impossible, I’m now living in central Brighton. You gave me the strength to fight. Thank you so much for giving me a unique look into your family and home.”
The service relies on volunteers to provide housing for young people.
People like Liz, a Sussex Nightstop volunteer host, who said: “Most of us are concerned about the growing plight of young people who cannot rely on having somewhere to sleep every night.
“Being able to offer them a warm welcome, a hot meal, and a bed so that they feel safe is such a rewarding yet easy thing to do.
“As hosts we’ve seen ourselves the positive difference Sussex Nightstop makes to the young people who have stayed with us.
“We hope the #SleepSafe campaign will help Nightstop to continue to be there for young people when they need it most.”
Statistics revealed by the charity says that 45 per cent of young people accessing Nightstop are in work or learning, and 90 per cent of young people using the service go on to secure safer, more suitable housing.
But Sussex Nightstop does not work alone. Nationally, it is part of a strong and growing network of Nightstop services that are quality accredited and supported by the youth homelessness charity De Paul UK.
On a local level, it is part of a coordinated response to the issue of homelessness for young people. Over the last 10 years it has forged strong partnerships with a range of voluntary and community and public sector agencies, who all bring their unique contribution.
Research has found that as many as one in five young people finding themselves in the unpredictable and risky situation of sofa-surfing and of these, roughly half will have sofa-surfed for more than a month.
Ben (name changed to protect identity) found himself homeless after he lost his job, split from his girlfriend and a close friend passed away. With a lack of support from his mother and wider family Ben became homeless.
After being referred to Sussex Nightstop the team were able to offer him help and support including a stay with a volunteer host.
The charity also provided Ben with support for his mental health, by implementing suicide intervention plans helping him on his journey back to health. Forming a strong rapport with his host lead Ben to secure a part time job and permanent accommodation.
Ben credits Sussex Nightstop with enabling this positive change in his life by giving him the support he needed in his darkest hour. Sussex Nightstop helped Ben to find the future he deserved.
To help Sussex Nightstop raise £10,000 in their tenth-year or for more information about volunteering and the charity visit www.sussexnightstop.org.uk