An Edinburgh youth charity is offering safe and comfortable short-term accommodation to young people in crisis
An Edinburgh youth charity is helping young people at risk of homeless with safe and comfortable short-term accommodation in the homes of local volunteers.
The Rock Trust is keen that other youth organisations know they can refer a young person they are worried about to its Nightstop Service.
Vetted hosts with a spare room provide young people aged 16 to 25 in crisis with a bedroom, food, access to necessary utilities, and a listening ear. All hosts are trained by the Rock Trust team and given dedicated 24 hour support when hosting a young person.
Emily turned to the service when she was 17 after her mother impulsively kicked her out of the house. A housing oficer at Edinburgh Council referred her to the Rock Trust because her mental health meant hostels and B&Bs were not considered appropriate.
Emily said: “I stayed four nights before going home. While I was there I realised that I’m my own person and needed to stop doing everything for everyone else. I realised that talking to good people makes you feel better and that I wasn’t such a mess up as I thought I was.”
After her stay with a Nightstop host Emily went back home again, and when things started to break down again she went to the Rock Trust and stayed with a different host for a few nights.
She said: “Speaking to them helped me gain some perspective again and remember that I had to think about myself if my relationship with my mum was going to survive. I am back at home now. I met up with the Rock Trust again and they helped me to get a job which I still have. I am now looking for my own place to live and still keep in touch with my project worker at the Rock Trust.”
This Nightstop service is run across the UK by multiple charities, and is known to be an important way of preventing young people who become homeless from sleeping rough, or having to live in temporary accomodation like hostels and B&Bs.
A 2018 report by Heriot Watt University found too many young people still living in B&B and hostel accommodation. In 2016-17 1,755 young people were placed in hostels, and 670 in B&Bs.
However, temporary accommodation of this kind is increasingly recognised as ineffectual in helping homeless people move on with their lives, not to mention being intimidating and potentially unsafe for young people with complex issues such as mental health problems.
The Rock Trust has found the Nightstop Service can be a preventive measure, a form of respite, and a way to stop young people ever becoming homeless at all.
Allison Calder, head of services at the Rock Trust, said: “With relationship break down being the single biggest reason young people become homeless, reaching those young people before they become homeless is both possible and vital.
“A few days or weeks away from their current home/family, can be the difference between a young person repairing their relationships, and finding themselves homeless.
“If the relationship can’t be repaired, then Nightstop can offer the time and breathing space for the Rock Trust team to explore with the young person what their options are, and help them secure longer-term accommodation.”