By Olivia Carter
We had the pleasure of talking with Lesley from Nightstop, who has been a volunteer host for Nightstop for over fourteen years and has enjoyed her experiences.
Who are Bradford Nightstop?
Nightstop is a voluntary organisation that was formed twenty-seven-years ago in Leeds. Their aim is to provide overnight accommodation for young people who are homeless through placing them in homes with trained volunteer hosts. For that night they are provided with a room and a warm meal, whilst Nightstop look for a more permanent solution. Nightstop provides practical solutions for real problems by helping young people who need a bed that night.
How did you get involved with Bradford Nightstop?
I was first introduced to Nightstop by a friend who had a fundraising dinner for the charity. When my children moved out, another friend visited my house and said that I could be a Nightstop host. I have now hosted for over fourteen years and have had hundreds of individuals stay with me.
How does hosting work?
You receive training that covers a variety of topics to support you with your hosting. Hosting is very flexible as you tell Nightstop the nights that you are available, which could be a couple of times a week, or once a month. You provide an evening meal, a private room, and washing facilities for your guest. At the end of their stay, guests receive a feedback form so Nightstop can try their best to solve any problems. If any expenses incur, such as providing change for the bus, then you are reimbursed.
What would you say to people who are reluctant to host?
People might be nervous about welcoming a stranger into their home. The training, however, helps to keep yourself and your guest safe. You show them around the house and explain what rooms are private. I always go to bed after my guest. In my fourteen years of hosting I have not experienced problems. Individuals might be put off due to the commitment, but you can volunteer as many or as little days as you like. Volunteering as a host means that you can help from your own home.
People often have stereotypes about those experiencing homelessness, has your experienced as a Nightstop host challenged these perceptions?
Another host once said to me that there is ‘no such thing as a typical night stopper’. Although it is often young males, I do not take comfort in this as it makes me think what women could be doing to be housed. These young people may be in similar situations now, but how they got there was completely different. The thing they have in common is it was due to no fault of their own. I once hosted someone whose parents split up when they were very young, they never knew their father, and grew up with his mother and stepfather. When he was older his mother died and since he did not get on with his step father, he moved out and had nowhere to go. As a result of his unfortunate circumstances, he ended up on the streets.
Do you have a positive story that you would like to share with us?
I once got chatting to someone about volunteering as a Nightstop host. They asked me if it was still going and told me that they had used the service twenty years ago after falling out with their family. They now have a good job and are married with children.
How can others get involved with Bradford Nightstop?
Nightstop uses volunteers imaginatively so you can help with administration, assist with driving young people to their destination or become a host. If you would like to get involved you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form on their website https://www.nightstop.org.uk/get-involved\.