Appeal to help young Harrogate homeless

tis  Pictured from left are SASH Director Peter Robinson with volunteers Joyce and David Smith.  (130503M1)
tis Pictured from left are SASH Director Peter Robinson with volunteers Joyce and David Smith. (130503M1)
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A Bilton couple who open their home to homeless youths in the area are urging other host families to come forward.

David and Joyce Smith have been working with North Yorkshire youth homeless charity, SASH, as part of their Nightstop scheme for a year.

Through Nightstop scheme Mr and Mrs Smith offer a emergency accommodation to a young person, aged between 16 and 24, who is at risk of sleeping rough.

Mrs Smith said: “We got in touch with SASH after seeing an article in The Harrogate Advertiser.

“We thought, ‘We have a spare room, we can do that,’ it’s a practical way of helping young people.”

Mr Smith said: “We’ve been having people to stay for about a year now. We had some training before hand where the expectations were explained.”

Peter Robinson, director of SASH explained the purpose of the Nightstop scheme. “For some young people, especially 16 to 17 year olds it is best for them to be in a home environment,” he said.

Mr Robinson explained that SASH take referrals for Nightstop from approved agencies, such as the local council or Salvation Army.

He said: “We carry out all the necessary checks to ensure that the young person is suitable for Nightstop. Obviously anyone with issues with violence or drink or drugs would not be considered.”

Mr Robinson added: “It may seem surprising to some people but there is a need for this in Harrogate, the number of young people we deal with is second only to Scarborough for a North Yorkshire town.”

From March 2012 to March 2013 SASH hosts provided 129 nights of accommodation to 47 young people and are struggling after three Harrogate hosts left the scheme.

Mr Robinson said: “They left because of family reasons or changes in circumstances, but obviously as you can imagine it has left us short.”

Hosts, like David and Joyce, provide an evening meal, a bed for the night and breakfast for the young person under the scheme.

Mrs Smith said: “Each person who comes to stay is different so it’s best to just play it by ear, you have to be welcoming and non-judgemental.”

Mr Smith added: “Sometimes they want to watch t.v and have a chat, other times they want to be alone.”

The couple said the scheme fits in with their schedules.

Mrs Smith said: “SASH are very flexible, we let them know in advance when we are available and if anything changes we just let them know.”

Although the Smiths are a married couple with a grown up family this is not a requirement to be involved in hosting.

Mr Robinson said: “Being over 25 is the only specification.”

For more information contact Sarah Ware by emailing sarah.ware@sash-uk.org.uk or call 07507595240.